Published on February 10th, 2015 | by Kelly Rose Bradford0
Safer Internet Day – how to keep your kids safe online
This morning I was asked on to BBC Radio London to share my thoughts on keeping our kids safe online and from cyber bullies.
Today is Safer Internet Day and I was pleased to have the opportunity to get my point across. And that point is, quite simply, this: I strongly believe that the responsibility of keeping our kids safe online lies entirely at the door of the parents.
We provide our kids with unfettered access to the world via web, and it is down to us to not only equip them with the skills to use it wisely, but also to educate ourselves and keep our knowledge up to date so we know what they – and other people – are (or could be) up to.
Saying ‘I don’t get all this social media stuff’ or ‘It’s all beyond me’ is NO excuse. It is not down to your ISP or your device’s security settings to protect YOUR child. It is down to you. And that includes protecting them from bullies. Arming them with information about cyber safety, and being a part of their online world yourself will mean less opportunity for bullying or other forms of online abuse – either with them as the victim or perpetrator. Because sometimes our children will be the ones other kids need protecting from – and as parents we need to be very much aware of that, too.
My advice for parents:
This is pretty much a summary of what I said on Radio London:
Don’t assume your kids are unaffected by online bullying – many children think insults, ‘banter’ name-calling and online meanness is just part and parcel of social networking. It isn’t.
Let them know what bullying means: that it is not just physical or ongoing nastiness, exclusion or humiliation – it is anything that makes them feel victimised, upset, hurt or sad. Be that online or in the real world.
Speak to your kids school and find out what their social media policies are. My son’s head actually gave a talk on this so that parents were left in no doubt as to what a huge influence the web and social media has on children, and how it can be abused and used to make their lives a misery.
Speak to other parents. Be a united front. Be open and approachable and not on the defensive if a parent contacts you about your own child’s online behaviour. Make sure the kids know you, as adults, are policing what they do online.
Be a gatekeeper. Have all the admin passwords to your kids’ devices. Check up on them. Let them know you are checking up on them. Do not let computers/phones/tablets be electronic babysitters. Do not allow them to be more important in your kids’ life than you are.
Respect age limits on social media platforms. No 10-year-old needs a Facebook account.
Talk to your kids about privacy and what they should and should not share online. And be seen to be following those rules yourselves.
And most importantly, make sure they know that NOTHING is private the moment it has left their sent box/upload screen.