How to keep your child safe when they are online.
Safety of our children should be high up on the list of parenting priorities. When I was growing up all I wanted to do was play with my new Tamagotchi, ride my bike or play with my rather large collection of TMNT.
Recent years have seen a rise in internet use from children, this actually scares me. Children as young as three are using apps that were intended for adult use, and honestly this really bothers me. What happened to kids being kids and just enjoy their childhood, making mud pies, climbing trees, building lego scenes etc.
Humans are down right monsters sometimes, I struggle to work out how anyone could hurt a child, yet scaringly quite a lot of people seem to enjoy it. Childline have seen a rise in children reaching out to them because they are in some kind of danger, whether it be from online abuse, home abuse and other forms of abuse too..
Online safety is something that I feel isn’t spoken about enough, and there should be more aimed at online safety for children and their families. Something that can be worked on together to ensure the safety of those using the internet. I feel some parents brush the issues of online safety under the rug and don't realise how serious it can be.
How do I keep my own children safe when they are surfing the net?
Some simple yet effective measures to ensure that my children are safe.
* We have taught our children that they can talk to myself and Craig about anything, they don’t have to hide anything, they know that no matter what it is we will try to help in any way we can. This has been a huge help, especially since Adam our oldest started high school and has since started using websites more for socialising, homework and entertainment. So just be open and honest and trust each other. I always felt silly chatting to an adult when I was younger which is even more reason for me to really drum this into the boys.
* We limit the online usage, this has been in place for quite a few years now and for us it works. The boys are not allowed tablets, phones, games consoles Sundays and Tuesday. We have always been quite outdoorsy, we didn’t want them getting sucked into that zombie like state of staring at a screen 24/7 forgetting that outside still exists, this rule has been a big help. The boys have to use their own imagination to entertain themselves twice a week. When they do use the consoles they are giving time limits usually a few hours a day but in all honesty they don't really spend that long playing video games as they prefer to be doing more productive things.
* If an adult is not in the room they are not allowed online, this I think is just common sense, why would anyone let their child go online unsupervised? I understand teenagers like the freedom and privacy but when it comes to being online tough. We don't sit looking over their shoulders the whole time but we do like to know what they are doing and they tell us who they are talking too.
*We have taught them to never give out personal info such as full Name, address, phone number etc. You just never know who it could be.
* Set parental controls, we have set pins so that they can’t download absolutely anything, (In the past Elliot has managed to get a hold of a tablet and order some unusual items from amazon!) we don’t let them play on games that encourage chatting with strangers and we have disabled there webcams.
*Stick to age appropriate games and apps. I have always said that things have age ratings for a reason, I just don’t understand why someone would allow a child to use an age rated app for 16+ then complain that something happened to their 5 year old. DON’T LET THEM USE OVERAGE APPS!
*Switch off after 8pm. We have always had set routines and they have worked well for us as a family, we like to have a wind down just before bedtime and with Elliot that includes cuddles, story and just relaxing together, Elliot has never been big on playing on random games he tends to stick to educational apps, especially math apps as he is a smarty pants maths champion!
Common sense is a huge deal here. You know your child and you should know the signs. If anything seems off then look into what is going on not just in there outside life but online too because people can be truly hurtful when they are hiding behind screens. If you do allow them onto social media sites I would recommend that you also log into the account so you can keep an eye on what is going on.
I am all for letting the kids have freedom and learning from the mistakes they make but at the same time I just think being online has gotten out of hand when it come to social media. Whatever happened to just knocking on your friends door and hanging out for a few hours?
Keep your little people safe ! After all they are only little for a short while.