Safer Internet Day

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Happy UK Safer Internet Day!  What a good time to focus on helping parents keep children safe online – something the Good App Guide are passionate about.  Safety is a big concern for parents and it is even harder for those who are not confident with technology themselves.

Lucy Gill, Head of the Good App Guide, explains: “Many parents we talk to are worried about their children’s online usage.  They feel out of control and worry they are not doing enough to keep their children safe.  We help parents create strategies to support their children to avoid the dangers.  The digital world doesn’t have to be as daunting as it may sound”.

We’d suggest that parents consider the dangers in all the following areas:

Preventing access to inappropriate content.

Our solution – choose family tablets that have good parental controls and take time to set up those controls to suit the ages of your children.

Grooming and generally preventing contact to your child from inappropriate individuals  

Our advice – talk to your children about protecting their personal data and encourage them to set up online aliases so they don’t use their real name on public platforms

Cyberbullying – supporting children who are being bullied through technology and helping children to avoid being bullies themselves

Building children’s confidence off line is the key to helping them deal with cyber bullying and avoid feeling the need to cyber bully themselves.  Make sure children aren’t spending too much time living a virtual life and are confident in their own skin.  This comes from sharing actives such as family meal times, taking an interest in your children’s hobbies and being available to them when they need to talk.

Posting content online they will later regret, particularly to social networking sites

Our advice: Talk to your children about different types of communication and the fact that  messages on social media, texts and emails are all permanent and can easily be misinterpreted because the person you’re communicating with can’t see your expression or hear your tone of voice.  Encourage them to not put anything online that they wouldn’t be prepared to say to that person’s face.

Sexting: sharing explicit content such a pictures of themselves

Our suggestions: Explain to children that it’s easy for images to be forwarded and that they should only send images or pictures that they’d be happy for their teacher to see.  For older children, explain the permanence of the internet and that employers check social media activities of potential employees so even at 14 or 15, it’s important not to post anything that may prevent them from getting a job.

Downloading/sharing content illegally (such as music and movies)

Our comments: The punishments for sharing or downloading illegal music are severe and will lie with the parents of underage children, so it’s important that you agree which sites children can download content from and you give them the ability to earn credits for those sites so they are less likely to be tempted to go to the illegal sites.  Maybe agree a proportion of their pocket money that can be given as credit, or give them jobs that they can do to earn credit. This teaches important budgeting and money management skills as well as giving them access to legal content to download.

Running up big bills from accidental/ill-considered purchases

Our answer: Young children shouldn’t have access to in-app purchases so make sure your passwords are kept private and they ask you before downloading additional paid-for features.

Excessive usage to the detriment of other activities

Our suggestions: Try to balance screen and digital time with other activities.  Whilst computers are an important part of modern life and it’s important that children are comfortable and confident with technology, the off-line world is also vital for children’s development and it’s important to get the balance right so children don’t miss out on key aspects of development by spending too much time online.

At the Good App Guide, we encourage parents to talk to their children about all of these and get as involved as possible with what their children are doing online. There are many tools that can help but ultimately there is no substitute for working with your child to help them understand the dangers for themselves and empowering them to make the right choices.

The Good App Guide provides simple information for parents and links to other resources to demystify this area. It provides practical advice on how to keep their children safe on the internet and features apps that help children develop through digital play as part of a healthy play diet.  In addition to providing user-friendly reviews of apps the Good App Guide provides  links to expert resources regarding all these subjects. Other sites also provide some fantastic content in this area: https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk and http://www.saferinternet.org.uk

If you have any specific concerns or questions about internet safety, please contact us – on any day of the year!

 

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This post was written by Fundamentally Children

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