Do you do everything in your power to keep your children safe? I bet you do. From ensuring they leave the house plastered in sun cream, to making sure they can cross the road safely. But as schools break for summer I wonder if you know how you can proactively protect your children online?
Now I’m not trying to scare you here, but the reality is that at times the internet can be a dark place and our children are exposed to all sorts of online harms; bullies, trolls, predators, inappropriate content whenever they go online.
This week the 5Rights Foundation and the Children Commissioner for England showed that children are directly targeted with graphic content within 24 hours of creating a social media account.1
We’re calling for change in the industry and working with digital platforms. But until that time you can protect your children online. Here’s how:
1 Prioritise safety
Teach your children not to share their personal information, and explain specifically what you mean; no address, phone number, photos of them in school uniform, or photos which ‘tag’ their location.
2 Set boundaries & unplug
Establish time limits and stick to them. Even better if you can create time for ‘unplugged’ family time.
3 Discuss their online activity
Talk to your child about their online world in the same way you would their real-life world. Ask them about their favourite apps, YouTube videos, online friends and most importantly their gaming. Chat about what you think is appropriate, in line with your family values. Start the conversation today.
4 Be open
Let them know that they can tell you about anything that happens online. Irrespective of whether it’s happened to them, to a friend or someone they know. Listen carefully and try to respond without judgement or anger. You know your children, so make it appropriate for them. With mature children explain why you’re worried so they can see the reasoning behind any rules you set.
5 Explain about their digital footprint
Teach your children about their digital footprint. Ask them to imagine them walking in concrete, and literally leaving their footprints behind. It will help them visualise how everything they do & say online is tracked and available long after they’ve said it. It’s their reputation. How they behave online matters and what they think is private online rarely is actually private.
6 Online Tools
Check with your broadband supplier what online settings you can change for free, so you can control who can access what when. It will help you block adult-only material. Contact your mobile phone supplier and do the same. Do the same for your smart TV too.
7 Lead by example
Ask your children to ‘do as you do’. So lead by example and model the kind and positive online behaviour you would like your children to use. Let them see you limiting your own screen time and being thoughtful, and considerate about what you post online. Let them learn from you.
8 ‘No’ is a complete sentence
Teach your children that it’s ok to say no to sending a photo (or anything else for that matter). They don’t have to send a selfie and saying no really is a complete sentence. They don’t have to justify or explain why they said no. So if they find themselves in a situation where they’re being asked to share an intimate photo, no matter how much they trust or like the other person, they can refuse.
9 Build their digital intelligence & resilience
Building digital intelligence while your child is young is one of the biggest and best tools to keep them safe online. Promoting respectful communication teaches them to use the same manners online as they use offline, while encouraging empathy allows them to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and how harmful things can affect them. Help build resilience through reminding them that they can screen and evaluate who their online friends are, and if they are bringing a positive/negative outcome or emotions.
10 Sign up to be the first to use CAP
In Autumn 2021 we’re launching CAP and we want you to join us. Help us test our tech so we can keep our children safe online. It’s time to change the online safety conversation and put the power back in your hands as a parent. You can sign up here:
I’d love to know which tips you’re already using as a parent with your children. Let me know in the comments below.
Have a fabulous summer.