The positives and negatives of the internet are equally powerful. On the one hand, you have an amazing infinite resource for young students who can use this tool to help in all aspects of school work. They can also use it as an entertainment hub to watch videos, share with friends and partake in a digital social life. The downside of having a monolith of information at their young fingertips is the online dangers they face: from bullying, access to adult content, viruses/malware and identity theft, and interaction with strangers. To help promote internet safety, we’ve put together a list of five steps that parents can take to help protect their children online. Here's our advice:
In 2014, new apps such as Snapchat became teenagers modus operandi which resulted in lots of high profile media attention about its negative uses, especially with cyber bullying. If your children are accessing or requesting app downloads make sure you educate yourself about the possible dangers of the apps (especially social media apps) and monitor their access. If they want to explore new sites make sure they know they have to ask you first.
Without being alarmist, parents and kids should know that not everyone they encounter online is who they say they are. Remember how easy it is to create a false email address/facebook account? Predatory behaviour exists with some users lying about their age, gender or where they come from. Fake accounts are set up for fraudulent activity such as identity theft, or worse. If your child has been contacted by a suspicious or unknown person, make sure you contact them first to see if they are legit.
Cyber bullying has become a huge issue in recent years government and other bodies are stepping up in tackling this internet-age problem. There are lots of information resources for parents available to educate themselves on how to deal with this issue especially among teens and tweens. One of the most accepted ways to deal with this, is for parents to educate their children on what is acceptable behaviour on-line.
Children must know what constitutes bullying clearly and that they should not do it or receive it. Monitoring your kids behaviour on-line and letting them know they can openly discuss problems with you is important. For more, see our section on section on Bullying.
Educating your children, especially older teens on the repercussions of posting images on-line is essential. What seemed funny or daring to a teen now might not be so hilarious when they are looking for a job or college application in 5 years, and their social media is still available on-line for all to see.