Safer Internet Day 2014

Sarah Taylor

Tuesday 11th February is Safety internet Day with this year’s theme on ‘Let’s create a better internet’ focusing on our children and being safe online.

Helping positive digital citizenship across Australian communities, Coordinated by Insafe, the European network for internet safety, the event is supported in Australia by Cybersmart.

In the car on the way to school my son will occasionally ask “Mum, can I have an iPhone?” my answer to him is, “No, you can’t have one because you are 6 and you won’t be getting a mobile phone until you are much older, especially an iPhone”, his response to me is then one of discontentment with a bit of moaning thrown in for extra measure to which his 4 year old sister happily accompanies him on.

I have seen kids at his primary school stood at the gates on their phone’s they could be talking to their mum or their nan or even checking the automated clock (if that still even exists), but I am a firm believer that children of that age group do not need to have mobile phones of their own because as a parent it is my responsibility to know that they are always in an environment which is safe and with people who will look after them if I cannot be there myself, so what would they need it for?

This being said in school they are taught how to use computers from reception age and with this comes the use of the internet. When he came home from school one day and asked if he could use the laptop, after a bit of a debate I said yes, then I watched him switch it on, log in with my password, which made me think maybe I should be a little more secure with my home laptop access, and then open internet explorer. He typed into the search engine the word games, and it came up with a ream of websites, he seemed to know what he was looking for and through a series of clicks he got himself onto some car racing game and happily played on it for the next 10 minutes.

Now our children are the epitome of innocence which is what we all want for them. But inevitably as they get older and more inquisitive this can be a time when they can get up to things that we as parents are unaware of and it is important that we are educated in how we support and educate them to make the best of what technology offers without any of the negatives that we hear about in the media.

Recently I have been reading up on how I can ensure that my children are safe online and although much of it can seem obvious, it is sometime those things that we can forget to explain to our children.

Here are some tips that I feel are important:

  • Spend some time with your child at the computer and let them show them you how they use it. This is a better way of working out any do’s and don’ts together and you can show them the best way of doing things safely.
  • Give a time limit – it is easy when the kids are nice any quiet to forget and get on with some of your own jobs, maybe a timer will help so they aren’t spending too long on the computer, game console or tablet.
  • Bookmark a list of favorites for your child, this way their favorite websites are easily accessible and there is no need to use a search engine and parents can work with your child in setting it up and checking those websites.
  • Keep your computer in a space in the house where it is visible so you can see what they are doing at all times.
  • Look into installing filters, labels or safe zones to help manage their access. Also check your anti-virus or e-security software is up to date.
  • Teach them that if they come across anything that scares them or that they think is wrong to tell a trusted adult.
  • Helping them understand how to open and close programs safely can be useful if they come across something they don’t like.
  • Talk to them about using personal information and to never share things like phone numbers and home addresses without speaking to a trusted adult first.
  • If you are unsure or have any concerns seek help, the Australian Government Cybersmart website has lots of advice and also an online helpline which provides free, confidential advice.

Giving them the tools to make safe and conscientious decisions is a life skill that we all value and in the process we as parents can learn something too and this can make the online world less of a daunting place to explore.

 

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