Expert / 24 May, 2018 / Childnet International
The digital world is changing all the time, and while it’s a wonderful tool for children to learn, play and connect, it’s imperative to keep up with the right measures to keep your child safe online. Education Officer Phoebe Moriarty Roberts from Childnet International looks at the ways you can start a conversation about online safety with your family.
Through my role as an Education Officer, I spend most of my week in schools across the country talking to children, young people, staff and parents about online safety. At Childnet our main message for parents is to take the time and speak with your child about the games and services they like online. By engaging with your child and having an open dialogue about online safety, even if they are still young, we hope that your child will be more likely to come to you if they have a problem with something online in the future.
Having regular honest discussions is key and I hope that the following conversation starters help you begin that open dialogue around online safety with your family.
Ask your child:
Remind you child that the most important thing is to tell an adult if they need help and reassure them that you are always there to listen and talk about anything that makes them feel worried or upset. Explore the report and block buttons together on their favourite apps and games and reinforce the importance of not retaliating if someone upsets them or makes them angry. Telling them to take a screen shot is also helpful as it means you can clearly see first-hand the problem.
We often hear from parents that they feel overwhelmed with the amount of games and apps their child is accessing. Try not to focus too much on fully learning the mechanics of a game or app, instead focus on the behaviour of your child or the risks involved as these will apply across different platforms and devices. Many children are extremely tech savvy so encourage your child to use their expertise and talk you through the specific services they use and how they work. Perhaps they can show you how to do something better online or they might have a friend who would benefit from their help and support.
The online world is an increasingly important part of modern family life, so it makes sense to approach it as a family too. Why not make a pledge together on how, as a family, you’re going to use the internet safely and positively? For example:
This will ensure children are aware of the boundaries set in place and also means they know what to do if something goes wrong.
There are lots of tools available to help you manage the devices used by your family. For example, knowing how to activate and use parental controls can help protect your child from seeing inappropriate content online. Setting your Wi-Fi to only be available between certain hours of the day can limit your child’s usage, and disabling features such as geo-location or in-app purchases on your child’s phone can prevent them sharing their exact location or stop an unexpected bill.
If you want further advice and guidance on online safety then visit the Childnet website where you will find a parents and carers page highlighting hot topics, help pages and resources.