All of my children have no idea of what life would be like without the internet. It has always been a major part of their lives, and as the years go by it becomes a more integral part of their lives. It moves at such a pace today that quite honestly it frightens me.
But it also makes me want to learn as much as I can about internet dangers that are quite honestly all too obvious to us.
Understanding internet dangers
Most important are the dangers that our children face. Because no matter how careful we as parents are, we can’t protect our children if we don’t understand and know about the dangers ourselves. As the saying goes it would be like the blind leading the blind.
I grew up in an age where there was no internet, and actually looking back, life was a lot simpler. There was no social media or mobile phones. If you wanted to speak to your friends you met them in the park or the local youth club. Of course that didn’t mean there weren’t many dangers – but the people that were the sort to lead you astray, you just stayed away from. However it was made easier by the fact that there was no internet.
The ‘internet’ is now everywhere
E-safety, well, it had not even been thought about, or the internet for that matter. It’s 2018 though now and everything we do from communicating with friends online, to paying for lunch using your smart phone, involves the internet. Our lives are interwoven with the internet and the internet is totally interwoven with our lives. Importantly, it is not changing anytime soon.
Why E-Safety Month is vital
I have teamed up with DaddiLife for their e-safety month to highlight the importance of e-safety and why we should be doing everything to understand what our children are doing online. We need to be there to help and protect them where we can, whilst trying not to invade their privacy or make them feel like we are controlling or invading their lives.
Of course that is a very delicate balancing act. In my humble opinion all of the above is doable, and I will tell you how. It’s really simple actually. Talk to your children.
Let them know you also have knowledge of the internet, and if they feel that something is wrong with their online activity they can talk to you about it. That’s something I champion heavily on DIY Daddy too.
E-safety for parents is one of the vital topics of the digital age. We’re delighted to be working with @dkbooks @nadiaandkaye and Will Geddes on a whole month’s focus on E-Safety in conjunction with their essential new book Parent Alert. Link in bio for our interview with the authors and their own e-safety tips. Plus there are FIVE copies of the book to giveaway! 📚 #parentalert #esafetymonth
In conjunction with DaddiLife’s e-safety month is new book that has just been released called “Parent Alert. How To Keep Your Kids Safe Online” which is written by Nadia Sawalha and Kaye Adams. Both Nadia and Kaye are parents with the normal fears that all parents face when their children are online. The book is co-authored by security expert Will Geddes. Will has over 25 years experience with online security and his advice is invaluable.
What Parent Alert helped me see
Upon reading the book I quickly realised that I’m not alone with the worry I have when my children go online, and in a strange sort of way that’s actually very comforting. It also made me think am I doing enough to help protect my children with e-safety, especially now my six year old twin girls are growing up?
So after reading the book I thought I would highlight five of my greatest fears with my children using the internet, and what I think are the best ways to protect them online. I will also highlight what I think is the best way solve any problems they may have online.
1. Smart Phones
What a powerful piece of technology in your hand! It’s totally possible to run your entire life from a smartphone. I know I do, but:
- At what age do you allow your child to have a smartphone?
- And depending on their age, what restrictions and controls do you put on them and the phone?
One of the problems of smartphones and children is the amount of apps that are available to them and how easy it is for them to access social media or chat apps such as Whatsapp and Snapchat. My six year old twin girls are in year one, but on a regular basis I see year 5 & 6 year olds holding their phones as they leave school. This means children as young as 9 or 10 years old have phones today.
This is of course entirely ok, as long as:
- The phones have parental controls on.
- You know all the passwords for the different apps they may be using in case you ever need to look.
For me the biggest thing you need to do is keep a line of communication open so that you can discuss what your children are doing on their phones. Hopefully that way you won’t need to invade their privacy, and yes they will feel that mum or dad are watching their every move.
It’s a difficult balance, but it can be achieved with talking.
Laptops are nowadays common place in people’s homes and as our children enter high school they will need laptops to help with their education. Quite often children will have their own laptop too. I have always made sure that my children’s time on a laptop is limited, and mostly used only for their schoolwork. This can all be done in a family room.
It’s easy to let them go off to their bedroom with a laptop on their own, and you well have parental controls set to on and know all their passwords, but be warned kids are smart nowadays and they can, and will get around those controls. Consequently they could go on sites that are not suitable, or chatrooms that you don’t know about.
- Keep it in the family room and don’t let them go to bed with a laptop when it’s bedtime.
- The laptop stays in the family room, turned off.
I have always loved the Xbox and a consequence of my love of the Xbox was passed on to my son who is 19 years old now.
He would watch me play, and he would also play on my Xbox too. This of course was ok because it was being played on the main tv in the lounge so even though he was online I could hear and see what he was up too, and who he was talking to.
He initially had his own Xbox at around the age of 12. This was a decision I made based upon a few factors. Firstly most of his friends had an Xbox, and they were playing games in a group which he did on my Xbox.
Their game of choice without a doubt was Fifa, which I genuinely thought was not a problem. It’s a football game. What issues could there be? That was until one night when I overheard the conversation from a game online. Even though the parental controls were turned on and I thought he was safe and only playing with his friends he wasn’t.
He had turned them off and was playing online generally with whoever, and the language and name calling was appalling, and you have no idea how old these people are, and if their intention is more than just playing the game. On this occasion nothing serious happened thankfully. The lessons it taught me:
- Keep the Xbox in the family room, and not allow him to have it in his bedroom.
- Although trusting your children to do the right thing is important, they don’t always see the danger. It’s important that you always watch what they are doing. He learnt his lesson and only played the game in his circle of friends.
4. Social Media
The usual social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram I have to admit are very easy to keep a very close eye on. However there are a couple of social media channels that I don’t use, but had to learn very quickly how they work because my children were using them. If I don’t understand how they work, how could I keep them safe?
Snapchat in particular is really quite scary for me when it comes to my children. They can now have a location finder that pinpoints exactly where somebody is at any given time. Very worrying when it comes to children. Also make sure that the people they’re friends with are actually real life friends and not just random individuals.
5. Digital footprint
The digital footprint is one of those things that nobody seems to take any notice of, but it should be one of our greatest fears.
Whenever you post anything online, whether it be a photo, a tweet etc, it creates your digital footprint. It’s vitally important that photographs are photos that are suitable for showing to your family.
It’s vital that your children, especially teenagers, are not posting photos that are revealing or semi-clothed etc. At the time may seem like a bit of fun or a joke or something they have been dared to do.
You will never know where that photo may end up. The internet is vast and they could easily end up in the hands of people that will use it in ways you would rather it wasn’t. My tips:
- The digital footprint is ok as long as your children are aware that it needs to be respected.
- Talk to them about the consequences of this ending up in the wrong hands.
My learnings and tips
There is no reason why your children shouldn’t be safe in the digital world. With the right guidance and information we can teach them about the possible problems they might face if they abuse the technological world. I’ve lived by three simple rules when it comes to e-safety, which the Parent Alert book has further helped:
1. Keep the lines of communication open at all times between your children and yourself.
2. Trust is vital. If they can trust your judgement, and can come to you if they have a problem and not feel they will be judged, especially if they have made a mistake.
3. The Internet is really no different from our everyday life. If we teach our children right from wrong they will hopefully be able to identify when something is wrong online and stay away or tell you.
With technology now fully integrated in our lives we need to protect, but allow our children to go online. So let’s teach them all about e-safety! If you need a helping hand, we’ve got 3 copies of the brilliant Parent Alert book to giveaway! Simply enter your details below.
My kids are all old enough to have phones but don’t have them yet. I just don’t think any of them are responsible enough. None of them have social media yet either but it has been discussed. It’s a scary world out there on the internet.