23.05.2017 Family Article
How do I help my child stay safe online? If this is a question you have asked yourself, we have some suggestions.
There is no doubt that the internet has revolutionised the world. It facilitates the flow of information, knowledge and learning like nothing before. It enables us to communicate and connect in a way our grandparents could only dream of. So, it is completely understandable you want your children to make the most of new technology and the advantages it brings.
But with all the positives, there is also risk. The internet contains large amounts of inappropriate content and allows your children to communicate with others who may pose a threat to them.
There are ways you can help your children get the most out of the internet from an educational and social perspective while helping them to stay safe online:
Help them understand ‘personal information’: help children understand that friends online may not be who they say they are. They should never tell people online their address, where they go to school or other identifiable information. Make them aware that anything they post online, regardless of privacy settings is there forever so they need to be very careful.
Start talking early: as soon as your child is able to access the internet Cybersafe Ireland recommend asking about:
Although they are likely to be closely supervised initially, starting the conversation provides them with the vocabulary they need to speak to you when they are older. Let them know they can always speak to you if anything that makes them feel uncomfortable happens while they are online, even if they have broken any agreements you had.
Implement parental controls; invest in parental control software for laptops and mobile devices. They should limit access to much of the inappropriate content online however don’t rely on them to be fool proof, especially as children get older.
Supervision: keep connected devices in family rooms and supervise children while they are on the internet. Implement a rule that phones are turned off and locked away downstairs at night.
Use their knowledge: children love nothing more than outsmarting their parents, ask them to show you where the privacy settings are on the apps or games they use. Talk about how they should set them.
Create an agreement: an actual written document and sign it, this will help reinforce the other items on this list. Cybersafe Ireland have a family agreement that covers many of these topics your family can print and use or write up your own.
By the time your children get the secondary school, the risks posed by mobile devices may be greater. They are more likely to have accounts on social networking sites, be communicating with friends and be at greater risk of cyber bullying.
Tips for teens:
Be careful what they post: remind them regularly that everything online stays there: if they are not happy for you, their grandparents or a future employer to see it. Don’t post it.
Watch what they say: for many of us, our teenage years are full of drama, remind your teen not to get swept up in emotion and say something online they wouldn’t say face to face. Never post when they are angry.
People they meet online: young people are drawn to other young people online, especially if they find someone with the same interests as they have. Ensure your teen knows that all may not be as it seems when it comes to online ‘friends’ and remind them privacy rules should still stand.
Cyberbullying: encourage your child to speak to you or a trusted adult if they feel they are a victim of cyberbullying. Also, have them:
If bullying is over a prolonged amount of time report it to the Gardaí.
Children and the internet is a complex issue but with help and encouragement from you, your offspring can get the most from this amazing resource with minimum risk. If you are looking for something to do away from screens, check out our activity quiz and make the most of family time.