In Australia, approximately 86.5% of us are online each day for an average of 6 hours 13 minutes.
Throw in a global pandemic that saw majority of people move to a remote work or school environment, and we are certain these numbers have substantially grown.
Children aged between 15 – 17 years are the highest users.
So, the big question is, what are our children doing when they are online? And more importantly, are they safe?
Social networking, online gaming and YouTube seems to be the answer to what they are doing, but as for their safety, this remains a huge concern for parents every day.
anspired have compiled a list of useful tips to help you encourage and teach your children to be safe when using the internet.
Probably one of the most obvious, but also one of the most important ways to keep your children safe online, is to have open communication with them. Talk to them about what they are playing, watching, or reading online and set rules around what is and isn’t allowed.
Children can so easily become all consumed with their devices and forget that what they are doing can be seen, saved, or shared with others. Remind them often that the internet is not private.
Teach them that they should only ever speak to people online that they know, never to strangers. If they are ever unsure or feel uncomfortable, the first thing they do is speak to a parent or guardian.
It’s also important for us as adults (and parents) to think about our child’s age and maturity before we allow them access to the internet.
Potentially they are too young, and that’s okay. There is no need to introduce them to the internet until you feel they are ready.
Do not share.
For some children, they won’t understand the importance of keeping their personal information private, and the consequences that could come from sharing them with others online.
Write down a list of information that is not to be shared such as residential address, phone numbers, passwords, birthday, school name etc, and keep it near the computer or in an area where your children sit when accessing the internet. This way they will see it often and be reminded not to share.
Encourage them to think before they post, and to ask you questions if they are unsure.
Implementing parental controls will allow you to limit what your children are seeing and doing online. You can block explicit content, add website filtering, manage screen time and more.
Microsoft Family Safety is a great place to start.
Some parents opt to keep that extra bit of control by setting the passwords.
Whether it’s the password to their social networking, or even the password to the Wi-Fi itself, your children won’t have access without having you sign them in first.
Keep screens close.
Encourage children to use their devices where you can be close by.
If possible, set up the family computer in an open place such as the lounge room where the family are often together. This allows you to keep a close eye and ear on what they are doing online.
Some families choose to set the rule ‘no devices in bedrooms’, which is another great way to limit where your children can access the internet at home.
Lead by example.
Children learn so much from us each day. If they see us actively using our devices and spending hours online, they will feel its normal and okay to do the same.
If you are connected with your child on social networking platforms, remember they will see the content you post and share, and then lead by your example.
Ideally, we do not want to create fear around using the internet for our children, as its almost guaranteed they will be using it often when it comes to their education.
What we do want, is for them to have an in-depth understanding of how to stay safe online and provide them with the knowledge they need to avoid the potential dangers.
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