As parents – or relatives, teachers and other adults responsible to children’s safety – we want our children and those we look after to be healthy and happy … and to develop well both physically and mentally. Above all, it’s also instinctive that we want kids to be safe.
Children learn through exploration and natural curiosity, and it is part of our job as parents and carers to encourage that. However, as our children grow up, develop and discover new experiences, we have to take more and different steps to ensure their safety. Until their understanding and instincts catch up with their curiosity, our children need to be protected from everyday dangers – whether crossing the road, in and around the home, trying new foods or talking to new people they meet and sooner or later … going online.
Depending on the age that your children are now, they may not have yet discovered computers, smartphones or tablets, unless it’s just pressing the buttons! Alternatively, they may already be used to using certain trusted websites and apps or – if they’re older – using social networking sites.
By the time they are older still, they will probably already be ‘online veterans’ who know their way around the internet, apps, games, downloading and social networking with ease. Chances are, they know more about these things than you do. But they almost certainly don’t have the life-experience and wisdom to handle all of the situations they encounter. Which is why we need a measured approach to keeping our children safe when they’re online.
Internet safety goes way beyond protecting kids from strangers or blocking inappropriate content. It’s about helping your kids use the Internet productively and practice safe, responsible online behavior — especially when you’re not there to answer their questions or check in on where they’ve ventured. Keep in mind that what may seem like basic knowledge to parents is new to kids just getting started in the digital world. Having a conversation before your kid embarks online helps set expectations and establishes ground rules. Here are the basic guidelines to share with your kid:
1) Don’t post any personal information online – like your address, email address or mobile number.
2) Think carefully before posting pictures or videos of yourself. Once you’ve put a picture of yourself online most people can see it and may be able to download it, it’s not just yours anymore.
3) Keep your privacy settings as high as possible
4) Never give out your passwords
5) don’t befriend people you don’t know
6) don’t meet up with people you’ve met online. Speak to your parent or carer about people suggesting you do
7) Remember that not everyone online is who they say they are
8) Think carefully about what you say before you post something online
9) Respect other people’s views, even if you don’t agree with someone else’s views doesn’t mean you need to be rude
10) If you see something online that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or worried: leave the website, turn off
your computer if you want to and tell a trusted adult immediately.
Remember your child’s safety is in your hand and the more clearer the understanding between you and your child the better chances to form a healthy relations with everyone.