This guide will help you understand the most important online safety rules that parents need to know.
There is a lot of information available about online safety, some contradictory and many years old.
The internet is now an integral part of our daily lives and should be a part of our family life.
Today, wild Pokemon roam around museums and digital blocks can be used to recreate The Great Fire of London. Who would want to miss the creativity and fun that the digital world offers?
Children would be missing out if they didn’t actively engage in digital endeavors. Research shows that digital-savvy children are much safer online.
What are the most important online safety rules for 2016? These are our top five tips
Digital resilience is more important than filtering or blocking.
Confident parenting is the best way to ensure that your children are safe online and make good decisions.
Content blocking tools are far less effective than allowing your child to self-regulate online by encouraging them, discussing boundaries, and being available for help if needed.
This is supported by the A shared responsibility: Building up children’s online digital resilience study, which was published by Parent Zone in 2014 by the Oxford Internet Group.
The study examined the online behavior of 2000 14-17-year-olds. It found that those who could self-regulate their use of social media and internet were more able to deal with potentially inappropriate or harmful content.
The study found that children who have developed digital resilience through parent support and self-regulation are more likely than those without it to find new opportunities and express themselves.
Vicki Shotbolt, Parentzone CEO, says that children need to be independent, take risks, and figure out their own way to deal with life. It becomes impossible to track what your child is doing online. You will rely on the things they learned early on and do everything you can to be there for them if they have any questions.
Do not limit the conversation you have with your child on ‘the internet safety conversation’
You might consider a headline about online safety a chance to talk with your child, but this shouldn’t be the end of your conversation about online safety with your child.
Talk about the online adventures of your children, be active, learn what they like to do, and ensure that safety is not an afterthought.
Talk to your child if they approach you about an online concern. Explain to your child that they won’t be in trouble for making a mistake, and that you are available to help them sort it out.
You can balance your interest in the online activities of your child with giving them space to be themselves
You can’t always be there for your children in the real world. However, they will learn how to navigate safely on their own. Online, the same rules apply.
Although it might be fun to play with your child online, or to organize online activities together, you should give them the space to make their own decisions, internalise safety messages and create their online identity.
The Oxford Internet Institute research found that young people who had the ability to understand safety messages and self regulate their internet activities were more likely than others to make better choices in potentially dangerous situations. They also have a greater chance to develop new skills, be creative, engage in civic activities, and build deeper social relationships.
Set boundaries and don’t be afraid of setting them
It doesn’t have to be easy for your child to explore the internet. Research has shown that online resilience is positively related to parental involvement. Children who have boundaries are more likely to feel secure online.
Discuss expectations about how they should act towards other online users – friends and strangers. Discuss the rules for sharing photos and images with others. Can they bring their tablets and phones to the dinner table? They can have them in their bedrooms.
Encourage them to make their own judgments based on the boundaries that you have established.
These boundaries should be part of your online conversation with your children. Rather than giving them rigid rules, it is better to encourage them use their judgment based on the boundaries that you set.
Instead of focusing on the length of, focus on howchildren utilize digital media.
A recent LSE briefing on Families & Screen Time affirmed this view. The report suggests that parents should pay more attention to the context and content of their children’s digital media use than how much time they spend on it.
The following are some ideas to consider:
- Is your child engaging in passive activities? Are they pursuing something exciting? Are they being creative? Are they talking to friends? Are they talking with people they don’t know?
- The child’s age. Children younger than 10 years old may require more controls to manage their screen time and balance it with other activities. Your older children might be better at setting time limits or agreeing to them.
- Is there a healthy mix of online and offline activities the child does regularly?
- Set a good example. Help your children not to be intimidated by the new technology and model positive digital habits for them.
“A lot of social media sites allow children to create an account at 13 years of age. However, it is important to consider the maturity of your child as well as their ability to comprehend what having a profile on social media really means. For example, strangers can see all of their activities and they could be contacted by them. You may not feel that it is the right time to allow your child an account at 13 years old.
“If you decide to allow your child to use social media, make sure you talk with them about safety online. Help them set up privacy settings and let them know that they can always reach you if they have any questions or concerns.