By Tre Sylvawood
When John Parsons worked last week alongside our children, staff and some parents, he opened our eyes to the importance of ensuring that technology is used in a safe way. We have all this technology, he said, but as it is new to parents and teachers, we haven’t thought seriously about its implications on peoples’ lives – positive or negative. He pointed out that parents wouldn’t let their children cross the road without teaching them to be safe, and it should be the same with cell phones, computers, internet games and social networks.
John’s focus for parents and teachers was simple. He stated that setting clear boundaries, having open communication and taking a close interest in children’s lives are fundamental to protecting them in the digital world. He advocated a policy of regular engagement and involvement in the online life of a child, stating we need to stay close and assess the risks. Added to this we need to teach our children to be smart and safe at the same time with practical ways to identify and guard against online predators, and use straightforward steps to protect their online identity.
Here are eight tips John gives parents:
- Become your child’s ‘friend ‘in any social network environment your child creates.
- Maintain easy access to your child’s online profile via their log in …. You will see everything.
- Ensure that you can always have access to your child’s phone to help them stay safe (i.e. it is not s no-go area)…check the quality of how they are communicating with others; talk about how they connect and communicate with friends. Is it consistent with the values of your family?
- Educate your children about the importance of protecting family and friends images… teach them to seek permission of anther before they send or upload images via the internet.
- Try to always maintain open lines of communication. Do not over-react if you see something that alarms you or makes you angry… share your concerns, and always talk about issues as how they relate to them and their friends safety.
- Agree on a time in the evening to stop using the technology at home… that’s everyone. Remember, what we model today will either come back and embrace us or bite us tomorrow.
- Talk/ ask about their friends and social activity as a way to reduce the opportunity for cyber –separation to develop… encourage being open about new friends and what they are up to, and who their parents are. When in doubt, call the parents and introduce yourself.
- Teach your children to protect their online identity, as a way to future proof themselves for employment… we need to teach them to nurture and protect their identity so that they are able to protect themselves as they engage information technology.
To learn more visit the Safeguarding Children Initiative website.