Long gone are the days when, if we wanted to know what the largest fish in the world was or learn more about the Vikings, we had to either ask someone we thought might know, consult an encyclopaedia or visit a library. Now, the time it takes to find out the answer is only as long as it takes for you to google it on your device.
Because the internet has become such a part of everyday life we may forget about the potential dangers there are with online use. Safer Internet Day, on 6 February, provides an opportunity for families, schools and organisations to raise awareness and start conversations about online safety with children and young people.
The theme for 2018 is: Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you. It’s an invitation for everyone to join in and engage with others in a respectful way to ensure a better digital experience.
Here’s our top tips for safe and positive internet use for you and your children:
1. Stay connected
Keep an eye on what websites your child is visiting, who they’re talking with and what they’re using the internet for, such as watching videos or using social media. Regularly look at your child’s browser history and talk with your child if you have any concerns. Let your child know that if they come across anything online that makes them feel uncomfortable they can talk to you about it and not get in trouble.
2. Keep their devices within sight
Whether it’s a home computer, laptop, iPad or smartphone, restrict their use to “family areas” such as the kitchen and lounge, so you can keep an eye on what they’re viewing.
3. Have a conversation about online bullying
Nobody wants their child to be a victim of online bullying, but also make sure your child isn’t the one doing the bullying. Talk to them about good internet behaviour and learn more about staying safe from online bullies.
4. Discuss the wide reach of the internet
Anything you post on the internet, especially sharing photos on social media is potentially available for anyone to see. Young people may not realise the dangers of chatting with people online who they don’t know (and who might not be who they say they are) or sharing personal information.
5. Set a good example
How do you engage with others on social media? If you’re guilty of retweeting a nasty tweet or posting a negative comment about someone, your child may start imitating your behaviour. Trolling, or posting rude, nasty or hurtful comments, is never okay!