Step 1: The Basics – tips for safe surfing:
- Keep your computer in a busy area of your home or family space
- Never let your children have a laptop in their room
- Keep control of their mobile contracts and consider non-internet enabled devices for younger children
- Have a conversation (not a lecture) about how they are using the internet. Negotiate with older children an appropriate amount of time to be online
- Be firm when they break the rules you set and do not allow iPads or mobile phones in the bedroom overnight
- Speak to your child about what they access—surf the net with them
- Check browser history on a regular basis
Step 2: Talk about how children can stay safe on social networks and the importance of privacy:
- Explain to your child how to use the safety functions on social media
- Talk about online privacy—including the dangers of oversharing. It’s good to share sometimes, but children should be aware of oversharing and how that could affect their reputation, now or in later life.
- Not everyone online is who they say they are. It’s important that your child knows that there are a lot of fake users, online predators, and people looking to steal information. Your child should be vigilant against strangers seeking to meet up or receive money.
Step 3: Educate your child about online safety:
- Talk to your children about the realities of what they will see online and how they should react to inappropriate content such pornography, violence or unpleasant comments.
- We need to let young people know that the virtual world is held to the same standards as the real world—this includes the following:
- Common courtesy when interacting with others: We would never allow children to bully others in schools, nor would we want our own children to be bullied. Parents should remind children that cyberbullying, including name calling, spreading rumours, threatening or undermining someone, is inappropriate and hurtful behaviour.
- Giving out personal information: We would never walk up to a stranger at the mall and hand them our address and phone number. Similarly, we should not post these sorts of details online.
- Make sure that your child knows that if anything goes wrong they can always come to you
- Be part of your child’s online life - show an interest and involve the whole family
- Discuss what sites your child likes and why
- No parental control is 100% effective—open communication channels between you and your child are the most effective way of knowing what is happening in your child’s life
Consider creating a family agreement for internet usage. Some great examples are:
Young children: http://www.safekids.com/contract_kid/
Step 4: Set a good example
- Don’t use tablets or phones as a babysitter for your children. Sometimes we set the worst examples. We often use our phones as ways of answering emails or occupying ourselves on the commute, but we need to be careful that this example doesn’t influence our children’s social outlook.
- Make family time an internet free zone.
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