Talking about a safer internet

Safer Internet Day falls on Tuesday, 10 February this year. Each year, the day aims to help us realise we all have a part to play in making the internet a safer space to be. 

Keys of a computer keyboardAlthough, as a parent,  it may not feel like it sometimes. There are countless stories to make parents feel they don’t even occupy the same space online as young people.

To be honest, you’re probably not. But, it’s not all bad, and getting a handle on what young people are doing online will help.

The kids are alright

Not all young people are being bullied or are bullies. It’s worthwhile keeping in mind that loads of young people are doing OK.

Though this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep an eye on your son or daughter.

We do still need to be careful

When it comes to dealing with something as serious as bullying (cyber or otherwise) we need to try and manage it properly.

We need to teach young people about online safety and also get them to consider their behaviour in relation to others.

Where do I start?

An easy way to begin communication about online safety is to chat about one of the many stories about celebrities who are overexposed online.

Recent examples of this can be seen in the email hackings of celebrities whose personal photos were then distributed online. In that case people were targeted because of their fame. But, it’s a good example of how private material can be distributed and how the individuals were treated.

What do they think?

Try having an open conversation with your son or daughter about what they think is appropriate.

  • What do they think is OK to share online?
  • What do they consider to be bullying behaviour?
  • Do they think of any future ramifications of their online behaviour?
  • Do they think about the people on the other end of what they’re writing/posting?

Unless it’s happening to them, there’s no reason to suppose they’ve even considered the kind of things which may be bullying. This is true in general, but especially so online, where everything is open to misunderstanding and interpretation.

Keep abreast of what’s going on

You don’t have to be the authority on technology, and neither are you expected to be. But, it is a good idea to keep an eye on what the popular sites and apps are and how they’re used.

There are loads of articles and sources of information on how to stay safe online. Like this example from Mashable: 12 things students should never do on social media.

Theory of evolution

Technology and how it’s used is continually evolving. This means you need to dip your toe in every so often to keep an eye on what’s going on.

To some, this may sound daunting.

You actually have a fountain of knowledge at your finger tips. No, not the internet. Your son or daughter! Why not ask them to teach you about technology? You never know what you might learn.

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