Online safety is the number one fear we parents have when our kids are online. Our kids need to know how to keep their personal information safe online and how to deal with anything unpleasant that happens too. Just like in the real, physical world, our kids are sometimes exposed to things we’d rather they weren’t – nasty comments, being left out, maybe called a mean name. We teach our kids to deal with these things. We don’t say – that’s it, no more talking to anyone for you! And it’s the same with technology, we have to teach them how be safe, rather than just remove the technology.
If we take the technology away from our children permanently then they will usually just find another way to get online – at playdates, the walk home from school, McDonalds free wifi, even mum or dad’s iPhone. For many of our kids, especially when they hit around 10 years old**, their social life is to some degree online. Take away the tool and we take away their tool to engage with their peers – not too mention the lost learning opportunities for their education.
***NOTE: Some parents won’t agree with me here. That’s fine. But what I would say is that if you do just unplug the computer or hide the iPad or turn off the wifi, your child will one day be online with less understanding and less experience in dealing with what are usually smaller issues. How do they then learn to cope with bigger problems like nasty emails at work or unwanted photos shared online that they may well encounter as adults?
Basically, turn off the screen -NOT the computer – and tell a trusted adult.
Then the adult helps them report the nastiness (through the website if possible), saves copies if it’s ongoing and takes it to the next level if necessary. The ‘next level’ might mean talking to the school, to other parents involved or to the police.
I want to put a caveat there though – if you speak to another parent about their child’s behaviour, please, please remember that the vast majority of us are parenting the best we can. Be polite, listen to them and be open to hearing another side the story….that’s it, rant over, as you were…
When it comes to personal info, you need to remember (and remind your child) of the 3 Things Rule.
To steal your identity, do damage to your reputation, to try and hack an online account, or do other scary things to your computer or online accounts Nasty Internet Folks only need 3 things – 3 pieces of information.
These can be any three pieces of information.
So, your first name, your last name and your address, or your school, or your football team or your street name or your car registration. You get the picture.
And pictures are the key. Be aware of what you are taking photos of…
That photo of your child’s football team with their team name on the jersey? That’s one piece of info. What else have you shared? Make sure you keep it under three.
That gorgeous pic of your child’s first day of school, is it showing the house or street number? That’s one (or two) things right there…and if they are in uniform and the school name is on their t-shirt….
The Internet is an amazing, growing, learning, developing, sharing tool that is just amazing for our kids to learn through. But precisely because it’s so open to opportunity means it’s also open to anyone and anything. We don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water – so we need to think and educate our kids (and ourselves) around these challenges.
So teach your kids the ‘3 Things Rule’ and make sure you follow it yourself. It’s fairly straight forward once you get going :0)
A question for today – If you have Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, what personal info are YOU sharing? Would you let your kids share that much? Let us know how you are going with sharing your info online? Hard or easy?
**There’s research on that from the ACMA: 10-12 year olds are jumping into social media at this age in huge numbers according to the recent Australian census.
***Please note I’m talking about ‘removing technology permanently‘. I have no issue with the removal of technology as a consequence for poor behaviour choices – just like grounding our kids or removing privileges, it’s a way they learn about expectations of behaviour. However, I don’t think keeping them off tech forever is appropriate or helps them learn…