Internet safety is an important part of of school curriculum. We spend lots of time exploring such areas as cyberbullying and staying safe when using the internet, throughout the school year.
The internet is amazing. Children can play, learn, create and connect – opening up a whole world of exciting possibilities. But with the digital world changing all the time, how can you make sure your child’s staying safe?
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Have a conversation
Time moves on but talking about behaviour is still the best way to address any worries you may have. Talk with them about your concerns and ask them to show you what they do online to reassure you.
Look for signs and opportunities to intervene
If a child seems to be glued to their phone and you’re worried the new message notification is interrupting every aspect of their daily life have a chat with them about it.
Use these opportunities to have discussions with young people about the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships to help highlight potential risks.
Trust your gut
If you have concerns, act now. There is a time and place for subtlety and reasoning, but when it comes to young people’s safety, this is not it.
Focus on the behaviour not the technology
Older generations often shy away from talking about online behaviour for fear of exposing their lack of knowledge about the different platforms. The key thing is the life experience adults have, which is far more valuable than any technological solution.
Focusing on behaviour allows you, as an adult, to draw from your experience to provide the support a young person may need.
As South West Grid for Learning’s (SWGfL) Online Safety Director, Ken Corish, wrote in this blog:
“Our children are not born experts in online life. They may have an affinity for technology but they are still children with all of the inexperience and naivety that brings. It is our job to support those things, no matter in which aspect of their life they occur.”
Do some research
There are no expectations on adults to know the ins and outs of every game, app or website in order to protect young people. But by learning the basics about an app, you at least give yourself a better understanding of the potential risks.
Most apps with a private messaging feature usually include privacy settings you can adjust to prevent strangers from messaging you. But your average eight year old who just wants to have fun may not think about that.
Cast your mind back to the dark ages – if your eight year-old child went into Blockbuster with you and chose to rent a 12a film, but you didn’t notice it was a 12, you wouldn’t have been angry at the DVD/VHS player (depending on your vintage) for playing it. You may even have still let them watch it, with you present and ready to cover their eyes and ears if a particularly scary scene came on.
Social media is much the same, young people need supervision and parents need to be aware of what their child is doing.
The majority of apps on the market are intended for children aged 13 and over. US legislation “COPPA” makes it illegal for apps hosted in America (which is most of them) to store data or advertise to minors under 13. However it is not illegal for someone under 13 to create an account, but the company can be prosecuted if they knowingly allow one to exist.
It’s fair to say that more robust age verification controls is something the industry needs to improve, after all anyone could enter any date of birth and create an account, but parents also have a role to play.