Safer Internet Day 2017

Next week, Tuesday, 7 February is Safer Internet Day.  This is to remind us we all have a responsibility to be good digital citizens and make the internet a space space. 

Where do you start when it seems that young people are online, attached to their phones, all the time?

Parents we’ve worked with have concerns around the fact that they don’t know what is going on for their sons and daughters online and don’t understand the space.

Every other week there seems to be some talk about ‘sexting‘ or cyberbullying which certainly doesn’t help.

Where can parents start?

Communication about online safety should be ongoing. What your daughter or son was doing online last year may not be the same right now.

A new online game. or a new social network and this could mean a new sets of online friends they’re talking to all the time. You do need to know about this and understand the world they occupy.

Discussing the implications of online behaviour on a regular basis is important too.

Make young people aware once an image or video is online, it is out there. It can no longer be controlled as to where it goes and who sees it.

High profiles cases of cyberbullying can cause a lot of concern for parents. Read more about cyberbullying, what it is and what you can do about it.

Ask the questions about online behaviour

Make a point of having regular open conversations with your son or daughter about what they think is appropriate, for example:

  • What kind of content do they think is OK to share, such as photos/videos/comments/personal details of themselves or others?
  • Are they aware of the consequences of what they share or post?
  • What do they consider to be bullying behaviour? Have they seen it? How did they react?
  • Do they think about the person on the recieving end of what they post?

Keeping up to date with trends

As a parent, you don’t need to be the authority on technology, but you should keep an eye on what the popular sites and apps are for young people and how they’re used.

Keep an eye on sources of information on how to stay safe online. Read talking about online communicationcyberbullying and talking to teens about sexting for more.

Keeping communication open with your son or daughter means you can ask them to teach you about technology.

Watch your own behaviour online

You will find it difficult to curtail the amount of personal content your son or daughter shares, or the amount of time they spend online if it’s something you do a lot. There are plenty of parents who are overly attached to their phones or ipads.

We all need to learn to ‘switch off’, literally and metaphorically, so make it habit to be device free at stages in the day, to talk face-to-face.

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