When It Comes To Internet Safety
Written by Victoria Radford
Stranger Danger used to be all about making sure kids didn’t talk to strangers on our way home from school or get into anyone’s car just because they were offered a lolly. It seemed easier to understand the idea of a physical person trying to get kids but now things are very different. The digital world has made the concept of stranger danger much harder to understand and a whole lot harder to police.
Internet safety is now a vital topic of conversation we need to bring up with our kids because, according to the ABS, kids aged 15 to 17 years are the highest proportion of internet users at 98% (2017/18) and its common now to see kids as young as 3 or 4 on an Tablet in a stroller or high chair.
Strangers now have access to our kids while they play games, or chat to their friends. Kids are also now more at risk of being exposed to more violence and adult content just by typing in the wrong word into a search engine. The danger is now faceless and parents often feel helpless.
While technology seems to be the culprit of this shift in child safety, it can also be a saviour. There has never been a better time to have access to information and resources to help us keep our kids safe in this new digital world.
1. Educate Yourself
There are many great websites out there whose aim is to educate parents about internet safety. The one that I recommend you visit first would be www.esafety.gov.au. It is an Australian site set up by the eSafety Commissioner whose office is committed to helping all Australians to have safe, positive experiences online. Here you’ll find an amazing amount of information and advice on the many issues surrounding kids safety on the internet but you’ll also find resources and tips to help parents and carers to help deal with issues when they arise, information about inappropriate content, social media and cyber bullying.
www.staysmartonline.gov.au is another Australian site from the Australian Cyber Security Centre. It has simple, easy to understand information for families on all areas of cyber safety that is essential reading for all parents.
There is a mountain of information out there to help parents understand the risks but more importantly, deal with the issues. Kids always seem to embrace technology more quickly than adults so the responsibility is on parents to make sure we know what is going on and keep up with our kids.
2. Get The Right Tools
It is essential that you install or activate some sort of parent controls onto your kid’s devices. No matter how much freedom you want for your kids, there are some things out there that they just shouldn’t have access to no matter their maturity level. By installing parent control software onto a child’s device, it gives parents/carers the ability to block inappropriate content but also monitor how much time is being devoted to apps and social media.
As an example, at Jeenee Mobile, we have teamed up with Qustodio – the most powerful parenting controls software for all our Kids SIM plans. It allows adults to assist kids in balancing their screen time so there is a healthy limit for a happy life but it goes beyond that by enabling parents/carers to monitor calls and sms. It might sound a bit overkill but it does offer parents real peace of mind if it is required. It gives parents the power to decide on what is best for their family.
If you have an Apple device you have parent control software already installed allowing parents to block inappropriate content and restrict screen time . Check out Family Sharing on Apple devices so you can restrict apps and downloads that are not meant for kids by setting age limit restrictions. As well as restrict screen time and inappropriate content.
It is worthwhile too checking out your computer security software like Norton, as they often have additional features for parent control and management.
Many streaming services such as Netflix and Foxtel Now have control tools parents should set if you have kids in the house. You can set age restrictions so that kids don’t get to see adult only content. The same goes for gaming consoles. You can restrict a childs opportunities to talk to strangers or play violent games. If you can’t work out the manual for set-up (and who can?) get online and find a YouTube video to help you.
The best way to decide on the right tools is to look around at all your different options you have as a parent and see what what works with your situation and family.
3. Talk & Agree To Terms
The most important part of any plan to help your family stay safe online is to talk about the issues with your kids. Agree together on what avenues you are going to take to make sure you all stay safe. Technology can even help you with this one! Why not look online for a parent/child agreement or pledge that spells out what sort of things are expected from both parents and children when using the internet. Use an ‘internet contract’ you find online and adapt it to suit your families needs and ethos. By having something written down and agreed to, you’ll know that issues have been highlighted and are always at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
4. Be Honest & Open
The other key to Internet safety, which doesn’t really have too much to do with using technology but more about the basics, is just to be open and honest when it comes to internet use. Encourage your kids to always use their devices where you can keep an eye on them. Have an open dialogue about when it is ok to talk to people online and what is going on in their cyber life. Discuss what information you should divulge and how long they should be online.
The more you show you understanding and are aware of what is going on, the more likely your kids will involve you in their digital world and you’ll be able to work together to stay safe online.