There’s no doubt about it the internet is an amazing resource for information, inspiration and entertainment. More and more we are coming to rely on it for our everyday lives so it is no wonder that it is a major part for our children to be growing up with. In fact so much so that at our second born’s secondary school each child had their own school laptop (bought by the parents and not compulsory but might as well have been) to do most of their work on. But as fantastic as the internet is it also comes with pitfalls and there are many concerns that parents should be aware of. Do they know what children get up to online?
With my four boys I have very different but similar worries about them being online and what they get up to. They access the internet from all manner of devices – including games consoles, tablets, iPods, as well as computers/the Mac. I worry about our youngest more due to his understanding of the dangers; our 9 year old for trying to fit in with his older brothers; our teen for trying to be more grown-up than he should be and spending too much time online; and finally our oldest because he no longer lives at home where we can keep him safe.
Basic things to consider teaching your children about online:
- Hacking: Making sure they now how to prevent people getting into their accounts and getting their details. Not sharing their passwords and keeping them safe. Parents can add to this by ensuring that protective measures are put in place on the children’s devices and that the Wi-Fi network is secure – starting with ensure that it is password protected and changed from the default.
- Talking: It is really important to try to keep the lines of communication open about what they are doing online. Keep an interest and make sure they know to approach you if they see anything inappropriate online: Including cyber bullying.
- Boundaries: Talk about what you do and do not allow and what the consequences are if they are not adhered to.
- Safety: What they are sharing and who with.
But what do children really know and think about their experiences online?
Global cyber security company Kaspersky’s study in September 2016, of 5040 children aged 10-15 (living in Germany, Spain, Benelux, Italy and France) discovered information about how children are using the internet and not be protecting themselves as they should: These children go online and have access at home to an internet connected smart device (tablet/smartphone) whether their own or a family owned one.
One in five children admitted their parents set no rules about how they used the internet at home and two-thirds of the respondents said they would know how to hide something from their parents that they were looking at online. This is the real worry for me as we trusted our children. We had told them about the dangers and thought that would be enough: It wasn’t. It was only when our son’s behaviour changed dramatically that we discovered the problem. Over two thirds of the children said they had heard bad language on the internet, while a third said they had witnessed violence online, with a quarter saying they had viewed pornography online. Now this quarter could be made up of children who did not want to see it – pop-ups etc, then those who were looking for it could be of a “soft” nature (for want of a better expression), but then there is the material that is really not healthy in my opinion!
Kaspersky Safe Kids is a downloadable app which helps you protect your children in a digital world, on their iPhones, iPads, Macs and Computers. For just £14.99 for a year’s subscription you can stay connected with your kids and be sure they are in a safe place.
This is a collaborative post.