This is a guest post.
The internet can offer vast opportunities for young people, who are learning about themselves, their peers and the world in general. Not only does the world wide web offer infinite amounts of information, which can be positive from an educational perspective, but there are opportunities to socialise with friends, meet new people, play games and download entertainment content.
However, there are also significant risks associated with the internet, and these cannot be ignored. Used maliciously, or irresponsibly, it can be a very dangerous tool. As such, it is crucial to take whatever steps necessary to keep children safe online. This is a role for parents, teachers, service providers and professionals working in child protection jobs - everyone has to contribute to the effort.
The NSPCC  has identified six major risks for minors using the internet. These are:
- accessing inappropriate adult content
- ignoring age restrictions
- befriending or communicating with strangers
- grooming and sexual abuse
- sharing personal information
- gambling/running up debts
It is important to account for each of these risks and take steps to protect young people who are still finding their way in the online world.
Protecting children online
One of the first things responsible adults should do is talk to children at an early stage and explain the dangers of the internet. Conversations or lessons about online risks should be held regularly, in order to reinforce the information and ensure children are aware of the issues. In a survey conducted by the (ISC)2 Foundation , 68% of minors said their parents never check what they do online. This is an obvious cause for concern.
Adults can help children use the internet responsibly by exploring the web with them, helping to guide their use. Setting rules and boundaries provides a framework for responsible browsing, while parental controls can be used to filter, restrict, monitor or report content.
Following a speech made by the prime minister David Cameron in 2013, the UK's internet service providers have delivered new tools to help parents protect children from harmful content. Adults need to learn how to use these defences, to activate privacy settings and utilise reporting tools effectively.
It is important for adults to know who children are talking to online, on message boards and on social media networks. (ISC)2 Foundation found that 22 per cent of 11 to 16-year-olds have met up with somebody they first came across online, so there are risks are children being duped by impersonators. Some degree of supervision is always advisable, with early intervention crucial to tackling sexual offences against children.