It is inevitable that children spend increasing amounts of time on the internet. It’s the first port of call for their entertainment these days, aside from wanting quick and responsive access to information and socialising.
So perhaps it’s a good time to review the internet safety rules in your household as it’s easy to become complacent.
To raise awareness and help with this Google have produced a new programme recently called Be Internet Awesome the centre piece of which is a game that takes the children through virtual worlds associated with internet safety. It deals with things like cyber bullies, hackers, safe sharing, and making wise judgements about what’s okay or not. It might be worth taking a look.
There are plenty of other sites around the net that deal with keeping the kids safe online.
The ones that took my eye were this one from the BBC which talks to parents about the risks, taking control, being aware and remaining involved with the kids so that you know what they’re up to.
And this one from the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) which offers several articles about keeping our kids safe.
Kidsmart is another site that offers plenty of articles and information both for the kids and the grown ups.
And BBCs Newsround team have put together a special programme for the kids to watch which tells them about keeping safe.
Looking through all of the sites and their suggestions it’s clear they propose the same simple ideas:
- That we remain engaged with the kids and discover things together (like investigating safety rules)
- That we are aware of what they’re doing online yet at the same time allowing them to explore
- But that we keep dialogue and conversation about their online activities going and teach them to be critical about what they come across and what’s appropriate or not
- Discuss openly, but without scaremongering, the potential dangers with things like chatrooms, sharing personal information, or meeting a stranger in person.
- Some suggest having an agreement between you to be open about what you’re doing, who you’re contacting, what you’re buying etc and laying down some family rules which apply to you as well as the kids
As the Webwise site points out there are far more positive aspects to the internet than negative ones and we don’t want to over dramatise the dangers. Yet we should still remain vigilant and engaged so the children can make educated and appropriate choices about how they use it.