For anyone born before 1990, the reality is that you did not grow up with the internet in your early life. It was not the norm to wake up, log into your Facebook page or social networking site, or check your emails, instant messaging and texts. But this is the reality for an ever increasing number of our children now.
As a result, parents are playing the “catch-up game”. We have to familiarise ourselves with internet protocols and safety measures. We need to become aware of all the positive elements that the internet brings but also the possible risks such as cyberbullying.
As parents we try to ensure our children’s safety as best we can in the physical world. We set boundaries and ask questions about their activities. We talk to them about their day and who they spoke to and the type of things they did. But this does not seem to happen in the cyber world.
Parents often state that they do not monitor their children’s internet and cyber usage. Many reports show the very low levels of parental monitoring of phone and social networking usage too. So it is clear that we, as parents, need to become more proactive in this area. Parents need to set positive boundaries with their children on what is appropriate internet usage and keep to this agreement.
Similarly when anything negative happens to a child when they are online, it is important they feel confident in taking these concerns to their parents who can then help in finding a solution.
Some basic tips for parents in ensuring their children remain safe online are….
- Engage in open dialogue with your child about what they use the internet for
- Familiarise yourself with some online guidelines. We recommend spunout.ie/onlinesafety
- Ensure your child has activated the privacy settings on social media sites e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. so their profiles are not open to everyone.
- Encourage your child never to engage with threatening or abusive behaviour online and to inform you immediately if they experience this
- Familiarise yourself with mechanisms for reporting abusive behaviour online – many social networking sites have report buttons for inappropriate behaviours or bullying concerns.
- Social media sites have comprehensive information on their policies regarding online harassment so have a look at these.
- Agree upon reasonable internet usage and stick to these rules. Children need to have a balance between online and offline experiences.
- Remember to keep calm if any negative issues arise in relation to the internet. An immediate response of removing your child’s computer, phone or Tablet if they experience bullying or other negative experiences only results in your child being punished for being bullied. This consequence will make it less likely that your child will let you know what’s happening.
Provided by “ISPCC” Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children www.ispcc.ie