Just like parents are keen to ensure their children are safe when crossing the road, and that they have the helmet on when cycling, we encourage the parents to do everything they can to keep children safe and well protected from bullies, predators, and inappropriate content online.
Let’s face it, the internet is here to stay and with our school being a fully online, its time, if you haven’t already, to introduce some cyber safety know how to your parenting toolkit. Here’s ten tips we recommend to get you started and keep our students safe.
1. Talk openly with your child about their online activity
As soon as your child starts accessing the internet, talk to them about what they are reading, watching and who they are communicating with online – and keep the conversation going as they grow older. Ask your child what sites they visit or apps they use, write a list, and look at them together. Talk to your child about what you think is appropriate and remind them that this may be different for other parents and their children.
Listen to your child and reach an agreement about what is right for your family. Remember the time will come when they access the internet outside the safety of home and you want them to be prepared for that.
It’s vital to teach them about their online reputation, too, and how they must be careful about how they behave, interact with people and represent themselves in such a public forum. They must always remember that the internet isn’t private.
2. Keep screens and devices where you can access them
Always monitor your child’s time online, particularly younger children. Keep the computer in a central spot in the home where it’s easy to keep an eye on what your child is doing and viewing online. For mobile devices, you can set them to forget Wi-Fi passcodes so your children can not go online without you knowing. You can also try to make an agreement that there are no tablets, laptops or gaming in bedrooms.
For younger children, you might also consider checking browser histories after your child has been online to see what sites they are visiting. This approach obviously gets harder as children grow older and work out how to clear histories – which is more reason to open the lines of communication about internet use at an early age.
For our students, given that the students could be studying behind a locked door in the study room, encourage the children to stand up, stretch and walk around on the 10 minute break we provide in between lessons.
3. Know your parental controls
Innocent searches online can lead to not-so-innocent results, so it’s wise to know how to use the parental controls/search restrictions offered by web browsers, internet service provider and devices. For example, the SafeSearch Filters feature on Google will block sites with explicit sexual material. To turn it on, go to Settings/SafeSearch Filters. Although not 100 per cent accurate, parental controls can help prevent your child from seeing and accessing most violent or sexual material. See https://www.internetmatters.org/parental-controls/. Paid for security tools and features will offer extra protection and control.
Be sure to book mark our portal as a safe site to enable them access classes. We also encourage parents to install apps that help the children keep safe online such as Kaspersky Safe Kids, Kidgy - Parental control app, FamiSafe - Parental Control, Net Nanny Parental Control Software, Life360: Find Family & Friends, Find My Kids: phone tracker, etc.
4. Know who your children’s online friends are
As adults, we know that some people online aren’t who they say they are, but children and young people can be alarming naïve about who they are chatting with if they are not taught to be cyber wise from an early age.
Make sure you become friends and contacts within your child’s social media circles and ensure you monitor posts. Your children may resist but tell them that is one of the conditions for you to allow them access.
We normally have hangouts in our school where children are left alone to interact and chat with their classmates, this is to enhance children social lives, we encourage the parents to make encourage their children to use the computer, smart phone speaker and not earphones or head phones. This will dissuade them from inappropriate discussions with the other students.
5. Be ‘share aware’ to protect your privacy
If your child is a regular user of social networks, they must be aware of the risk of personal information or images being made public once they post it. While they won’t fully understand the consequences of revealing personal information online, you should teach them to be cautious and thoughtful about what they post and share. Encourage your children to ask themselves before posting anything if the information (i.e. name, phone number, home address, email, name of school) or photo is something they would give a stranger. If the answer is no, don’t post it.
If your child is sharing photos or posts online ask your child to let you see what they are sharing or ask an older sibling to check any photos before they’re shared.
6. Keep control of your family’s digital footprint
Every picture and personal detail that is posted and shared on social media and the internet contributes to someone’s digital footprint. The big risk with this is that once information is shared publicly, it can be used in ways you may not expect and cannot control. You should also assume that anything that is put online is permanent (it can sometimes be deleted but not always before others have seen it and saved it). For this reason, children and young people need to be smart about protecting their images and information. The same goes for parents who regularly post pictures of their children’s online.
Teach your child to stay in control of their digital footprint, by only sharing with people who they know and trust. Rather than posting to all their friends on social media, encourage them to be selective and use the privacy settings on the social media platforms they use.
7. Teach your children to keep their location private
Most apps, networks and devices have geo-tagging features which make your whereabouts public and can lead someone directly to you. These features should be turned off for obvious privacy and safety reasons. Digital photos also contain metadata (information about the time, date and GPS coordinates) which may reveal more then you want to. Some social media platforms automatically hide or remove this data, but not all, so do your homework and know how much info you’re sharing.
8. Be #SocialNetworkSavvy
Educate yourself on ways to be safe on social networks so that you can give the best advice to your children. Sign up to the social networks and apps your children are using and find out how to use the privacy settings and reporting mechanisms. Talk about how they can stay safe on social networks, including talking to a trusted person when they are worried, and being aware of what constitutes online bullying – both as a perpetrator and a victim.
If your child uses social networks, be sure they know how to:
Report inappropriate and/or offensive posts
Keep information private.
9. Lead by example
Lead by example and always model the kind of positive online behaviour you would like your children to use. If they see you being cautious and respectable when you are online, they are more likely to follow in your footsteps.
Ultimately, you don’t want to instil fear in your child or prevent them from experiencing the many educational, entertainment, social and other benefits of the internet, but rather give them the skills and knowledge they need to know how to make the most of it and avoid the dangers.
10. Engage the teachers
We always encourage close and candid relationship between the students and our teachers, hence, we have seen instances where students openly discuss or disclose social media and internet experiences with their teachers. We encourage the parents to engage the teachers and discuss wide raging issues that pertains to children and that may include social media and interactions via internet so that remedial steps can be taken at the earliest.
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