May 23, 2024
Annapolis, US 73 F

6 Tips for Ensuring Children Stay Safe in the Online World

As our children spend more time online for school, entertainment, and socialising, we, as parents and carers, have an important responsibility to help ensure they can navigate the digital world safely. This article provides some key tips on how to work with your children to encourage safe, responsible online behaviour. While supervision and security controls remain important, we ultimately want to equip children with the knowledge and critical thinking skills they need to thrive both on and offline.

1.     Limit Screen Time, But Stay Involved

Too much time online can negatively impact health, sleep and concentration. Set reasonable screen time limits for devices and types of use. However, banning the internet rarely works for long in today’s digital culture. So, focus more on talking through issues and keeping dialogue open. 

2.     Instil Critical Thinking Around Trust and Privacy

Remind children not to believe everything they see online or share private information with strangers. Use real examples to prompt critical thinking, like how easy it is for someone to pretend to be a “friend” online. Foster their agency by discussing risks openly so they build discernment rather than rely solely on blocking tactics.

3.     Use Security Tools but Avoid Over-Blocking

Parental controls have improved drastically in recent years, with tools to limit times/websites and block inappropriate content more easily. Take time to activate these measures on your home network and devices according to your child’s age and needs. But avoid simply restricting everything, as this inhibits learning to assess information quality and can drive children “underground” to get around blocks. 

4.     Cultivate Empathy and Media Wisdom

The online disinhibition effect can make it easier for children to get pulled into hurtful behaviour like cyberbullying, whether intentionally or by failing to think through the impact of their actions. Foster empathy and compassion by discussing real case examples of online harm how easy it is the cross lines digitally. Highlight principles of treating others respectfully online as well as off.

5.     Model the Behaviour You Want to See

Our children notice everything we do. So, model the right behaviours you want your children to follow themselves online. Put your own phone away when talking to your children rather than scrolling. Consider having tech-free family times and spaces, like no-screen zones/times encouraging face-to-face interaction. Your example provides a powerful template for them to mirror.

6.     Keep Open Lines of Communication

Whether a parent or a foster carer to a child from an agency like Fosterplus Edinburgh, maintaining open, non-judgmental communication channels with your children is key for heading off problems early. Ask engaging questions about what websites they like and activities they enjoy, listen as well as offer advice, to understand their needs and perspectives. Make it clear they can come to you about anything worrying them online, and that you are there to discuss issues calmly and work things out together. If all else fails, don’t hesitate to seek expert help.

By taking an involved interest in our children’s online lives and fostering their responsibility, we can cultivate the skills they need to use technology safely. Protective controls will never catch everything in this fast-changing landscape. We must have ongoing conversations to guide their critical thinking, empathy and self-regulation in both the online and offline world. 

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