Exploring the digital world safely
Welcome to the first blog in our blog series ‘Developing online strategies for your child’. In this series of blogs, we intent to provide a guide to focus your thoughts on the challenging decision to let your child online. We will provide information for you to build an age appropriate safeguarding strategy for your Family.
Before we discuss strategies to manage your child based on their age, there are general principles that apply to all children regardless of age. We have developed ‘Golden Rules for Digital Parenting’ so you can scope your approach for common discussions and boundaries for online safety. Reviewing these six focus points and discussing them with your child will allow you to build simple rules and steps to take as a Family.
- Learn Together
- Build trust as a Family by learning together
- Learn joint strategies to manage online risks
- Be a ‘Digital Role Model’
- Real Friends
- Online and real world friends must be the same
- Block friends who can’t be nice online
- Don’t communicate with online strangers
- Promote Respect
- Teach positive communication and praise
- Say nothing if you can’t say something nice
- Block disrespectful friends
- Inappropriate Content
- Only expose your child to age appropriate Apps
- Use filters to make online content suitable
- Friends online should be of similar age/maturity
- Stay Private
- Use an Avatar and Pseudonym to keep private
- Never share your private information or location
- Ask permission if posting pictures of others
- Time Online
- Create Family ‘Device Free’ Time every day
- Lead by example and reduce your time online
- Have a ‘Digital Detox’ if your child is effected
Learn Together“Create a common understanding with your family so you can set clear boundaries with online activity”
- Build Trust: Learning together will bring you closer together with your Family. This creates open discussion that will encourage your child to share online experiences
- Discuss Risks: Discuss online risks with your child and make sure they are aware of potential danger. Repeat these conversations regularly in age appropriate ways to ensure they are not forgotten
- Be a digital role model: Make sure your child looks up to you and your ability to balance online risks and creating a fun space for them to visit online.
- Share Experiences: Expand learning to other parents and friends in your child’s friend list. Collaborate on setting a consistent message to your child with a similar approach to learning
Stay Private“Teach your child not share private information or their whereabouts with anyone online”
- Build an online persona: If you can, use and alias and avatar to represent your child’s digital persona. Link this to a family email account or an account for them that you control.
- Private Information: Educate your child on what information is considered private. Ask them not to give out their real name, home address, the school or clubs they attend.
- Your Child’s Location: Many Apps record location which indicates where the device holder is and patterns of where they visit regularly. This should be prevented by removing permission to use location services
- Posting Images: Only post images to closed groups like family and friends. When posting images, consider carefully the images of your children and their friends. Ask permission from other parents if necessary
Inappropriate Content“Filtering and monitoring will safeguard your child from exposure to inappropriate content”
- Monitoring and Filtering: Reduce the chance of accidental exposure to inappropriate content by applying monitoring and filtering to devices and broadband settings
- Discuss sensible searching: When using the internet for homework and general interests, make it clear that using it for anything else may result in inappropriate content.
- Build openness and trust: Make sure when accidental searching returns inappropriate content, your child knows they are not in trouble and can tell you about it.
- Age Appropriate Apps: Make sure you have understood the recommended age for each app your child uses. Remove those that are not appropriate and search out those that are
Promote Respect“Teach respectful communication as you would with real world relationships”
- Earning Respect Online: Teach your child to give praise and positive comments to others and tell them this will result in positive comments in return
- Discuss disrespectful actions: Teach your child what is considered as disrespectful communication. Unkind behavior, name calling, bad language and talking about others in an unkind way
- Think before you send: Teach your child to review their message before they send. Ask them how it will make someone feel when they read it. Ask them if they would want you to read it.
- Avoid disrespectful communication: Delete anything you would consider disrespectful that has been sent to your child. Block friends that are persistent offenders and make sure it does not re-occur.
Real Friends“Your child’s online and real-world friends should be the same”
- Know your network: Friends online should be the same as friends in the real-world. Virtual friendships can be innocent but expose the risk to online grooming
- Never talk to strangers online: Make sure your child tells you if they have ever been approached by a stranger online to make a friend request. Review their friend list regularly
- Discuss conversations: Talk about online friends and review the topics of conversation taking place. It is essential to know if your child is exposed to inappropriate language or mature themes
- Moderate with other parents: Work with other parents to get feedback of communication. Make them aware of their own online actions and know when they can be perceived negatively
Time Online“Limit time online to sensible amounts so it stays fun and does not impact their behaviour”
- Digital devices are not babysitters: Using them in this way can be harmful to your child. It is important to work with then online to ensure they have the correct guidance
- Set-up agreed ‘time online’: Ensure your child gets value and down time online without becoming irritable, tired and frustrated. If necessary force breaks from being online ‘Digital Detox’
- Create Family ‘Device Free Time’: Ensure your child’s time is balanced and they still appreciate time outside to exercise and play with friends face-to-face. Lead by example and include yourself in this.
- Consider using technical solutions: Limit your child’s time online. Devices can be blocked from use preventing use outside of the hours you have agreed as a family by using ‘Screen Time Manager’ tools