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Cyber Safety for Younger Children

We need to talk with our children about being safe online. Children need boundaries to feel secure. The minimum age for Facebook and YouTube is 13 years, however these are the top two sites for under thirteen’s, where they spend approx. eighty minutes a day online according to recent studies.

Advice for Parents: Monitor

  • Get under 13’s off Facebook, 13 is Facebook’s minimum age
  • Know their passwords and Pin numbers and monitor
  • Be upfront and tell them, ‘I will be checking your messages/history’.
  • Do not be afraid to say no, to set limits & boundaries
  • For younger children, buy phones without internet (Tesco €12)
  • Broadband can be turned off at night (9pm/9am)
  • ‘You may have a phone; however it must be charged downstairs at night’
  • Use filtering software
Younger children (under 13’s) on Facebook put up personal details, ‘friend’ strangers and put up identifiable photos – simply because they are too young. Ensure you are their ‘friend’ so you can follow them.

What is Cyber Bullying?

It is bullying carried out using Internet, mobile phone.

  • It is psychological rather than physical
  • Horrible  messages/posts, e mails, photos, pictures
  • Setting yourself up as someone else in a text message and being nasty
  • Using someone else’s accounts to make trouble for them
  • A once off incident is not bullying, but sustained, repeated & deliberate is.
  • How is the technology used to bully? It is used to:
    1: To intimidate
    2: To impersonate by the setting up of a fake profile
    3: To exclude or block a person To humiliate someone by posting something to embarrass them.
Talk with our child/teen about the consequences of making poor choices and to be careful not to get caught up in something they did not intend.

Online Bullying may be 24/7

The difference with cyber bullying is that the contact is 24/7, traditional bullying meant that home was a safe haven, now there is no safe haven as bullying comes into the phone, I touch or I pad at night and into your bedroom,  and parents may be unaware that this is happening. When a comment is put up on Facebook, the speed of contact and the audience is huge.

Stand up to the Bully

Talk with your child/teen about the power and the responsibility of the bystander. Failure to speak up otherwise results in unintentional complicity. Teenagers questioned say they don’t speak up as they are afraid that they may be the bully’s next target, so remind them they can always ‘report and incident’ to a parent or teacher.

Advice for Children/Teenagers to stay safe online

‘Do not leave yourself vulnerable – think before you open a link or Like and ask ‘Am I opening myself up to others being able to comment/judge a post/photo/message?’
Parents need to tell their children/teens that they are responsible for their actions and accountable for whatever happens. As a parent, no matter how much you want to turn back the clock you can’t and teens need to know therefore that the moment, they decide to hit the SEND or POST button that they will have to deal with the results of their actions.

Advice for someone who experiences bullying

  • Stop-Go offline
  • Do not respond
  • Tell them ‘it’s not your fault’
  • Keep the evidence- take a screenshot
  • Tell an adult
  • Block the sender
  • Report (Gardaí/Mobile phone operator)

Tips for safer Social Networking

  • Keep technology in open space for monitoring
  • Empower your child/teen to report
  • Discuss bullying behaviour with your teen
  • Understand your child/teens online behaviour
  • Ensure their Facebook profile is set to ‘private’
  • Don’t post personal information (address/school etc.)
  • Think before you post as you cannot get that photo back

This article was written by Sheila O Malley. Sheila owns Practical Parenting and offers courses, 1 to 1 support and School Talks as well as Company talks on Parenting and wellbeing. See for details. Book a One Day Saturday course from 10-4pm with a friend or partner and get the tips to need to support you in the hardest job you ever do!