The internet can seem like a bit of a minefield for parents, guardians and educators, but there are some useful tips you can try out.
Safer Internet Day is a major initiative to promote the possibility of a safer, better internet for everyone.
Much has been made recently about the growing issue of technology addiction among young people and teenagers, and the importance of education and healthy boundaries online is vital.
The initiative is held in more than 100 countries around the globe and the theme this year is: ‘Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you.’
Some parents, guardians and teachers can find digital literacy a struggle even for themselves as individuals; therefore, talking to children and teenagers about their online lives seems like a mammoth task.
Here are just a few practical tips and strategies you can employ to create a better internet and open up channels of communication.
Online safety tips
Emphasise boundaries and responsibilities
Talk to young children about hypothetical situations they might find themselves in online, eg they see someone post a mean image of a classmate or see a picture that is heavily photoshopped. Encourage them to think critically about what they see and explain that there is always potential for manipulation online.
Making the internet safer is a group effort
Educating yourself about online privacy and safety is the key step to be able to pass on accurate information and comfortably discuss the topic with young people.
The ‘granny rule’
This is a good rule of thumb for sharing photographs online. If you wouldn’t show the picture to your granny, parent or teacher, it probably means it shouldn’t be uploaded online.
It can be difficult to remember that behind every online profile there is a real person, but, by emphasising empathy to young internet users, you can create a more accepting and less judgemental generation of people.
Take a step back
Many worries around the internet and young people stem from the amount of time spent looking at screens and the anxiety this can cause. Imposing rules around screen time restrictions from the very beginning is the best way to ensure a healthy attitude to online life.
Research, research, research
With more people becoming aware and protective of their online privacy, parents and guardians should be examining the apps on their children’s devices to see just how much information they could pass on.
Many chat apps, such as Kik, can be used by strangers to talk to young people online, so it’s worth discussing and reading up on. Talking to other parents and teachers can help, too. WebWise has a series of great explainers detailing how popular apps work.
Examine what you share, and lead by example
Be wary of sharing images of your children or students in school uniforms, and examine how often you disclose your location online without giving it a second thought. Good privacy habits will be noticed and emulated.