Learning about the importance of Safer Internet Day
It is Safer Internet Day – as a parent this is a great time to reflect on whether you are taking the best approach to managing your children’s online existence.
It’s surprising how many parents feel they don’t need to set parent controls on their devices.
Parents regularly tell us that they haven’t set up parental controls because:
- their children are too young and won’t find anything inappropriate or won’t understand it if they do
- they are too old for parental controls and will either know how to get round them or they aren’t the type of child to look for it
- they’ve seen it all already so the horse has already bolted!
- they simply haven’t got round to setting them up.
We tend to disagree on all counts. Different parental controls are appropriate at different ages. The trick is to chose the right controls for your situation, rather than to avoid them altogether – it really is quick and simple to do – see how to set up parental controls.
Whilst we urge parents to use parental controls on individual devices as well as on their broadband coming into the house, we know it’s even more important for children’s long term welfare that they have and maintain a good, open relationship with their parents. If children feel able to talk to their parents about their online lives and can ask questions they are less tempted to search online for answers to the challenges they face. Research also shows that those with a good, open relationship with their parents are also more resilient and able to react appropriately if they do come across something that worries them online.
Parents can promote this strong, open relationship with their children by ensuring there is plenty of time for shared, offline activities to promote bonding but also shared online activity. Make sure your child doesn’t think you’re a luddite – be open to new innovations, as your children are. You’ll get left behind very quickly if you don’t at least try to engage with social media and the technology that children are using.
Set boundaries and enforce them with their digital lives in the same way as you would in the real world. Teaching children about stranger danger will help them avoid being ‘groomed’ and being kind, honest and not gossiping about friends is just as relevant online as it is in the physical world.
You wouldn’t let them go to a new town without giving them some preparation and talking about a plan of action in case things went wrong – you would normally have been there yourself first. Take a similar approach to the places your child is visiting online.
Keeping your child safe is a parent’s primary instinct and duty, and parents can bring a lot of the parenting skills they have in the real world to their children in digital environments.
On Safer Internet Day don’t be scared to be a parent online as well as offline.
Here are some more articles surrounding the subject of staying safe online that might be of interest:
- Keeping your children safe online
- Preventing access to inappropriate content
- Grooming – advice for parents
- Our tips for avoiding cyber-bullying
- The dos and don’ts for social media
- Avoiding illegal content download and sharing
- Parental controls & blocking access by children
- Avoiding unauthorised in-app purchases
- Managing time on tablets, phones and computers
This post was written by Amanda Gummer