Complete guide to online safety for kids
A few months ago I started this journey after researching to keep my own children safe online. A close friend convinced me to share what I had learned with other parents. Many parents hold the same concerns and putting together articles to help them would save them time researching. I am by no means a natural blogger; however, I am a parent with some tech knowledge. I truly worry about all children's online safety and chose to create a series of articles.
So thanks to that friend I started blogging my finding on keeping my own children safe. My goal was to share this and help our community keep their little ones safe also. The support and encouragement given by Team Ares only proved to me this was an important topic. This is a topic all of our team fully supports and develops ideas of how to keep children safe. We will continue to share articles and bring up topics. Luckily, we are a vast group with a common goal to educate those who are willing to learn.
Parenting & The Internet
Never has our job as parents to keep our little ones safe been more of a challenge. Not only do we now have to contend with the day to day real life dangers. Keeping them safe crossing the roads and teaching them the dangers of talking to strangers are still important. Now we are tasked with the added responsibility of protecting them online as well. Everyone has to be aware of the need to and be ready to be able to ‘Parent online'. This is discussed in our blog Parenting on the Internet. (I may have packed a bit too much information into that one, but this is a learning curve for us all).
Who are we talking to online?
Now so much of their spare time is spent online, playing games, or watching movies and TV shows. Our jobs as parents has been made that little bit more challenging. Children are not really adept at recognising dangers they can not see. Teaching them to avoid a stranger in the street is one thing. They can see the danger with their own eyes once they have been made aware of it. It has been practiced in school and reiterated to not speak to strangers.
As anyone can hide their identity online, this becomes an entirely different scenario. Children wouldn't entertain the notion little Casey' is anyone but the 9 year old Minecrafter they claim to be…. Why would they question it? We have taught them to find the good in people. We, as adults, know its entirely possible ‘little Casey' is really some 46 year old weirdo pretending to be our child's little friend. Creepy thought right? This is why it is so important to begin the ‘Online Safety' conversations as early as possible. I have tried to lay this out in our blog Talking to Children.
As our little ones grow so to does their internet world. As they reach their Teens our ability to shield them from the ugly side of the internet diminishes drastically. After all for most Teenagers the internet and getting round certain blocks such is laid out in the following blog Parental Controls. This find will help all parents as it reads well for the younger less experienced user. Also, it is a Godsend for the parent of a little one who doesn't always react favourably to being told to come offline.
Controlling Screen Time
This topic has led to many tearful tantrums in my house (had by me obviously lol). It is becoming more obvious we must limit our little one's ‘Screentime'. For information on this please review our blog Children's Screen Time.
Figuring out ways around restrictions at home and school seems to go hand and hand with becoming a teen. Every day teenagers become more adept at overcoming these obstacles. They would never admit possessing this knowledge, but believe me if they don't work it out for themselves one of their friends will be only too happy to show them how its done. This is really no different to how we ourselves found ways to get round any restrictions our parents had on us as children. The difference is, ours were not “online” restrictions but more real life focused. Not that I would ever have disobeyed my parents in this way, just in case they may read this.
Talking About Online Safety
It is so important to make sure the conversations about keeping safe online are ongoing as our children grow. Teenagers are especially susceptible to online predators and face very real risks. They are in a place in their lives where they are still kids yet want to be an adult. This rebellious attitude can yield very serious consequences. This makes discussing online safety often imperative to our children's growth and safety. For tips on talking to Teens about online safety please see our blog Talking to Teens
There are so many dangers threatening our children online; they are unprepared for the apps and sites they visit. This led to the development of the following blog App Awareness. I must admit the trauma I faced in researching this topic was devastating to me. The disturbing amount of online bullying our children may/will face and the effect it can have on them is scary. Cyber Bullying left me shocked and disturbed with the stories others shared. I compiled my research for the blog article Cyber Bullying. While it was a horror show, for me, I believe it is important our children hear these stories. It is important they know they are not alone and who they can trust when they need help.
Keeping Children Safe On All Devices
Today, devices are high powered mini computers with infinite potential. What precautions should we be taking when it comes to mobile phones? We must also content with asking ourselves when is it appropriate to buy our children their first mobile. Unfortunately, sometimes this pushes us too quickly, trying to keep up with other parents. No one wants their child to feel left out when everyone else has a mobile. For information on my experience and struggle to get my youngest a phone please see First Mobile. Thankfully to date I do not regret my choice to buy her her first mobile phone. Although the many texts and messages to get her a drink are getting old very fast.
Terms like “Stranger Danger” are a thing of the past; and foreign and new is exciting. Our children will continue to push the boundaries online. Conversely, I will happily share what I learn in my quest, keeping my children happy and safe. As a parent it is my job to make their lives better and keep them informed. As a member of society it is my job to share what I learned, because it takes a village. I know I will have the unwavering support of Team Ares in doing so. Although at times this may be quite a trial for them as apparently I can be rather hard work. Always feel free to visit us at Ares Forum for any issues you may face with online safety.