The online world can give children a number of opportunities but it is just as important to give them the confidence to take advantage of these safely. Mum and blogger Victoria Welton gives insight into what she does to help her child share safely online.
Getting used to oversharing culture
I am the eldest of seven children so you can probably imagine that trying to keep any secrets in our household growing up was probably nigh on impossible. I was used to an oversharing culture before it even became a ‘thing’! So, when my daughter came along, I wanted to make sure I maintained at least some privacy for her.
However, in a day and age where is becoming the norm to share your life over social media, I am mindful of how I educate her in the ways of Facebook, Twitter and the like.
Striking a balance with devices and filters
At the age of 9, Grace, my daughter, does not yet have a smartphone or laptop but we are looking at allowing her a tablet when she turns 10 in just over a month’s time. We have agreed with her that she will be signed up to the home Wi-Fi, which has a protection filter on it at certain times of the day, and she will have set times in which she can use her device. She will be able to take it out with her but will only have access to offline apps.
Presently, she plays nicely in her room without the need of the internet. I don’t want her to lose that but at the same time I don’t want her to feel left out and have her peers leave her behind. I am aware many of them are on YouTube every evening when they get home from school!
Setting the right example as a mum
Thankfully, both Grace’s first and middle schools are very tech-savvy and have educated her in online safety. She has seen a few programmes on children’s television too as the need for awareness is becoming more prominent. I believe that, as her mum, I must ensure that I set an example. With the fact that I write a blog and share my life across many different social media platforms, I try to ensure that I do this responsibly considering other’s feelings.
My daughter understands I take photos to share online and, if she is in them, I let her vet them first to make sure she is happy. If not, I don’t share. Simple as that! Thus, we have a mutual respect of our privacy as well as that of others.
My top tips to keep them safe online
To ensure that your child stays safe online, here are a few of my tips:
Be as open with your child as possible.
Give set times for them to spend online.
Limit the amount of time they spend online.
Take an interest in what they are doing.
Ensure that they never give out personal details such as address or date of birth.
Talk to them about the dangers of chatrooms and social networking sites.
If they want to sign up to specific sites, then have them give out your email address. That way you can monitor what is happening.
Keep the device somewhere other than their bedroom.
Having frank open conversations early on
I have always been as open as I possibly can with Grace. I don’t lie to her and, if she does something wrong, I ask her open questions to find out why she did it and why she understands that it isn’t right. This means that she is open with me in turn.
I believe that if you start early enough, this will have an impact on all aspects of their life including what they share with you and how they share information with others. I have made sure that Grace can approach me with any of her concerns or queries and never make her feel ‘silly’ or ‘wrong’ for doing so. Communication with your children, in all aspects of their life, is the key.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can help your children stay safe online, here are some great resources: