Sunday 26 November 2017

How to keep children safe online?

From the moment I found out I was pregnant I felt unconditional love for my children and a determination to give them a fantastic childhood. Being a parent means I do my utmost to care for and protect them. To give them a happy, stable and hopefully healthy life.

An underlying emotion connected to being a parent is worry. Worry that I am doing my best for them. Worry that they are happy. Worry that they are healthy. Worry that they will not come to harm. Worry that I can protect them from the bad of the world.

There is a lot to worry about when raising children.

In the tech heavy, online world we live in today where people are ever reliant on being ‘connected’ to the internet and the world of social media as they live their day to day life with an electronic device in hand, parents have a new worry to be concerned about - how to protect and keep children safe online?

The big, boisterous era of the world wide web and social media is not restricted to only adults, in fact the age when children start dabbling with the internet and first experience social media and online platforms is continually getting younger and younger.

When I was growing up before the generation of smartphones, most people did not get a mobile phone until their mid teenage years at the earliest. Nowadays I have heard of children under the age of 10 that have their own smartphones.

Not only are smartphones becoming increasingly prevalent with children but other devices such as gaming consoles for online game play and tablets are too. Children are growing up tech-savvy and at a young age are able to navigate around a tablet to play games, search google and watch ‘egg toy surprise’ and ‘toy unboxing’ videos by their favourite YouTube stars.

Whilst there are benefits to technology and the internet, my eldest for example has a wealth of educational games and information available at the touch of button which has helped him thrive educationally, there is a dark and dangerous side to the internet.

Cyberbullying is a real threat to children and teenagers. No longer is bullying limited to the school playground, it now taunts and follows victims back home where threats and humiliations online darken days and make life unbearable. Grooming and strangers pose a real danger to children and teenagers. They weave a web of lies as they target vulnerable children for their own satisfaction.

Other downsides and concerns about children and the internet can also include but are not limited to them bullying others, sharing inappropriate pictures, seeing inappropriate content, and spending too much time alone.

So how do we keep our little beloved children safe when online? How do we protect from them strangers online and cyberbullying?

Talk to your child
The first and most important thing is to openly and regularly talk to your child. By involving them in discussions about what is appropriate and inappropriate, informing them of steps on how to stay safe and having conversations about boundaries and what they can and cannot do online will help make them feel involved in decisions about their online use. Also by talking to them openly and regularly there is greater chance that if anything concerning happens online they will talk to you about it rather than keep it to themselves.

Buying your child’s first phone
SIM Only is a good option for a child's phone, a step up from pay as you go but it's often more cost-effective than PAYG especially when it comes to data. A good option is iD Mobile as all their plans are 'shockproof' which means there's no chance a child can rack up a huge bill. A £5 cap is placed on excess usage, allowing you to set your child up with a fixed monthly allowance and rest assured that they will never be able to go over that limit by more than a fiver. Other ones to consider include giffgaff and BT Mobile. You can compare all those SIM only deals here to find a price point that suits your budget.

Teach ShareAware
From a young age and when children first start using the internet and online devices teach them to be ShareAware. Teach them about personal information and how they should not share those details such as full name, address, school or email with people online. Educate them on ways to keep that information safe and protect their privacy such as not using personal details such as birthdays, location or names when creating usernames.

Explore sites and apps together
Talk to your children and explore the sites and apps that they want to use together to create an app and site approved list. By looking at them together you can express positive views about them as well as highlight any concerns. Explain what concerns you have and why you think certain sites or apps are inappropriate. Regularly update or review your child’s app and site approved list. Be prepared for your child to be influenced by friends who might use sites or apps you have deemed inappropriate, discuss this with your child explaining why they should not use them.

As with anything parenting related it is a steep learning curve and the job of parent and protecting children is ongoing. As children grow and their online use changes, ways to keep them safe will change. Teaching them the foundations of staying safe online such as being ShareAware and how to report inappropriate content and behaviour on apps as well as having open conversations about the internet and social media is a great start to protect children and keeping them safe online. Wealth is power too, so I always make sure to read articles and advice on how to keep children safe online such as this informative How to Protect Your Child on Their Smartphone infographic by TigerMobiles.

Do you have any advice on how to protect children and keep them safe online?

* Collaborative post *

No comments:

Post a Comment