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Internet Safety: What To Tell Your Kids and What to Monitor

January 1st, 2018
Hayley M.
Internet Safety: What To Tell Your Kids and What to Monitor
Way back when I was a trainee teacher (this is going back ten years or so) I was sent on an E-safety course. Being pretty up to date with technology I felt confident I’d be in ahead of the game on this one. However I always remember the shocking and scary revelations we were told, of real life cases.
In particular, we heard of how the then ‘in’ online game, Club Penguin, was being abused by internet predators. People under the annonymous gamer tags such as Blinky56rr would befriend children via the game. After building a relationship they’d offer virtual rewards (online coins and the like) in return for a photo. Without wishing to disturb anyone, this would then build up, until a topless photo and so on were exchanged.

Suddenly, simple online kid games became SCARY.

With this in mind my temptation was to ban my own kids from all electronics until they were thirty. However, now I actually have a little one (two actually), I realise I don’t want to hold them back. The jobs of the future will be in the computing industry. Coding is taught in primary schools! And to ignore this would be naive.

So instead of burying our hands in the sand, we will be putting our heads somewhere into the web, but ensuring we keep safe when we do so.

Online, insight

The first precaution to consider is to ensure any devices with online capabilities are (within reason) kept in a central location. That means computers, IPads etc are used in the family rooms, where, as parents, you can monitor useage at all times. It can be difficult with older children and smaller devices, but you need to decide when you can trust your child to use the web safely and independently. Until you feel this is the case, keep things central, where you can casually talk to children about what they are doing when online.

It’s good to talk

The old BT tag line, may be a bit archaic now, in a world connected by texting, emails, direct messages and Snapchat and the like. But, this is exactly why we need to ensure we make an extra effort to talk to our children about what they are doing online. Don’t make this into a routine inquisition. Avoid interogating them with questions like, "who were you chatting to?" "How old are they?" "What do they want?"
Instead keep things light and casual. That’s not to say as a parent you don’t have the right to know exactly what they are doing, but if you can build up a trusting, open communication about their online presence, they’re more likely to open up to you if they are faced with something that makes them uncomfortable.
For a quick guide to direct conversations about esafety, check below.

Quick reference esafety dIscussion points

1) what have you seen that makes you uncomfortable?
The NSPCC suggests you ask your child about things they, or their friends may be aware of online that has left them feeling unsure. Chances are your child may come across something unsuitable, but hopefully they are sensible enough to ignore it. However it’s important they know they can talk to you (without the risk that you’ll be cross) about anything they are concerned about.
It’s also important that they know to report any instances of bullying, whether to the self or someone else that they might see happening online.

2)what sites do you like to use?
Discuss and agree with your child what sites are suitable to use an those which are not. For older children you may need to reason as to why this is so, and take into account counter arguments. An old favourite will be, "by all my friends use it".
Having been part of several parental discussions on online useage I know this is rarely the case. One mum had banned Instagram because of the pressures it puts young girls under and when she discussed it, she found out several other parents had done the same!

3) talk about what is and isn’t okay to share.
Discuss what information should be kept private. Even young children should know not to share their full name or address etc. But also information such as what school they go to can be used by internet prededators. Ensure your child knows to check first before sharing any details online.

For information, including how to set up parental controls, see https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/

Hayley x

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