As a parent it’s scary knowing that our kids are exposed to a digital world that’s becoming faster and smaller by the day. But luckily, an online resource guide about internet safety for children is available to help parents prepare their children for life in the digital age.
On the plus side, technology is transforming education, allowing teachers to create personalised learning environments for their students. But on the down side, computers, tablets and mobile devices are creating a real need for a curriculum that prepares students for the issues that they will face when they go online – issues like safety and security, cyber bullying, privacy and respecting creative work.
‘I’m a parent, and I lie awake at night wondering what kind of dangers the internet could potentially hold for my children,’ says Apurimac Media CEO Will Green. ‘But I have a choice: either keep my head down like an ostrich and pretend it is not happening, or equip my children to be prepared for whatever they may face.’
You have the right to safety online
Green heads up Apurimac, Yahoo!’s representative on the African continent. Yahoo! has published an extensive resource list for parents about Internet safety for children.
Start asking questions
There are basic questions that every parent should ask, and that they would love to have answered:
- At what age is it OK to give my child a mobile phone?
- What is cyber bullying and how do I spot the symptoms?
- What is my child looking at on his computer or on his phone while I am not around?
- Can I still allow my child some privacy?
Green believes that everyone benefits when children and parents are on the same page about:
- Online activities.
- When children can go online.
- How long they can stay online.
- What they can do online.
Parents can visit safely.yahoo.com for more information on how to become actively involved in their children’s daily activities on the internet.
Monitor online behaviour
Romy Lee Fleishman and Lori Lewis from Turn Your Voice Viral (a campaign to teach SA students how to safely use social media) offer these tips for keeping kids safe online:
- Close but not too close. Join the social networks your children use and follow them, but maintain a respectful online distance.
- Communication is key. If your child is the victim of cyber bullying, ask them to be honest with you and fully explain the extent of the problem.
- Handle with care. Most of the time these kids don’t even realise that they have done anything wrong, so try to remain focused on the problem at hand and find an appropriate and effective solution.
- Keep children informed. Schools should educate their students properly about the use of technology and teach them to take responsibility for their online activity. Schools should also put a strict cyber-bullying policy in place.