Technology has changed our lives in so many positive ways. However, the safety of our family is always a challenge when children are online.
Research by CoreData and Choosi shows over 77% of people claim modern conveniences (and their accessibility) make their lives easier and the internet was noted as the main influence on contemporary life that makes our existence easier.
From monitoring our heath online to researching products, paying bills to accessing latest news, technology has infinitely enhanced our days. Over 77% of people claim modern conveniences (and their accessibility) make their lives easier. Further, the internet was noted as the main influence on contemporary life that makes our existence easier.
Of course with the ease and advantages technology brings to our homes comes obvious parenting challenges. Keeping little people safe online is a major issue effecting every Aussie home. Government research shows that over 71% of parents are concerned or very concerned about cyber safety.
Its important to be both vigilant and understanding of how to protect our children in an environment that is so different to the world we grew up in ourselves. 10 years ago the world had never seen a Smartphone and today many children actually own one.
Here’s 11 ways to be cyber-smart in a cyber-obsessed world and protect your family online:
1. Choose Age Appropriate Social Media
As a parent only you know what is suitable for the maturity level of your child. From Facebook to Instagram, Musical.ly to Snapchat, it’s imperative that all settings are on maximum privacy. If you don’t know about, understand or have your own account to the requested app, you need to tick all these boxes before you let your child have it!
2. Be Your Child’s Friend
Whatever platform(s) you decide are suitable for your child make it a rule that they must be your friend or connection. Knowing what your child is posting and how they are interacting with others is key to their safety no matter their privacy settings.
3. Promote the STOP, BLOCK, TELL Rule
If someone messages or emails content that’s threatening, explicit or rude, this is the process that should be adhered to. Firstly the child must stop responding and then block the person or people sending the content. It is imperative the child then tells a trusted adult what has happened.
4. Build a Culture of Transparency in Your Home
There’s some topics that are super awkward or tricky to talk about with our kids but empowering them to be honest with you, without judgement, is a powerful tool in many aspects of their life. Let your children know they can talk to you about anything, be it something they have seen or experienced online (or anything else!) Open communication prevents secrecy or shame as well as children attempting to ‘solve problems’ or ‘process experiences’ they may not be emotionally or cognitively equipped to deal with.
5. Always Supervise Online Use
Best practice for all ages is that the computer or device should be used in the family area of the home. Knowing what your children are doing online is key. You simply can’t beat watchful eyes. Nothing replaces parental supervision and education for kids about cyber safety.
6. Make Sure Older Children Understand the Concept of Privacy
With 85% of adults identifying their own online security and privacy as of concern when online*, its important to remind our children to think of theirs! Remind your child to never give out personal information such as their home address, school name or telephone number in a public message such as chat or newsgroups.
7. Use The Many Cyber Safety Tools Available To You
Make sure that there are filters and monitoring andor blocking software on all devices to minimise exposure to dangerous and unsuitable content. There’s loads of different versions of such products around so do your research and see what best suits your needs. Some programs also have ‘junior’ versions with cut-down content (such as YouTube Red) so make use of these as well.
8. Consider Your Own Adult Actions When Protecting Children Online
Whilst we worry what our kids are up to many parents also fail to think about how their own actions can impact their children. When recently surveyed, only 48.7% of adults said they were always careful about posting images of their family and loved ones (to maintain their privacy). Consider your own online settings, the images and identifiable features that might be on photos of your children and the forums in which you share such images. The online footprint you create for your child from birth can (scarily!) follow them right through life.
9. Understand the Apps and Games Your Kids Use
If your child or teen has a mobile phone it is imperative to know which apps they are using and the associated risks which they could bring. Only you as a parent will know what is or isn’t suitable for the maturity level of your child but if you see a game, app or social channel you don’t know be sure to research it and find out. Using Apple Family Share you can monitor what your child us using as well as make them funnel all requests for apps to you for approval – both great tools to keep your child safe.
10. Set Rules for Technology Use
One of the most common mistakes parents make when letting their children use computers or devices is not establishing the ground rules first. From where the devices can be used to for how long, what access mum or dad demands to what are your general expectations, it’s far more difficult to set the rules once the device is in hand. Having clear boundaries about technology use, in a positive and respectful way, will assist in keeping honest communication lines open and technology use safely contained.
11. Understand You Will Need To Evolve
As your child grows how and why they are online will change. Your knowledge of what they are using needs to evolve, literally, as they grow. Likely the rules you applied to them as a 7 year old will be vastly different to that of a 10 or 15 year old. Be sure to stay abreast of what your child is using and show them the respect of adjusting the rules and expectations of them as they mature.
In 2017, parenting needs to be as dynamic and adaptive as our children (and their favourite technologies).
Be sure to promote cyber safety online in your home and understand what is required to achieve online security for your family. Nobody said parenting would be easy, but knowing our little ones are protected is truly time and effort well spent!