Now, I’m no I.T. expert. But I have two kids who love their screens. So I’ve tried to do a few things to ensure they’re safe online…

Child on laptop

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/stacey_newman

The news this week has featured the Dark Internet.  A place that’s hard to trace which hides behaviour that’s impossible to justify.
People who hide are generally not to be trusted. So how do we keep our kids safe from those who may seek to hurt them online?

Simple steps to help protect young people online…

Each of us has ideas about how to bring up our kids or how to best work with those we encounter professionally. What follows are a few things that I’ve done.
The list isn’t exhaustive and it may not be to your liking. But hopefully it’ll help you think about your own ideas for e-safety.

  • Make screen-time a privilege – things that are treats are not things we do all the time. If they were, they would stop being treats. Kids need to know that time to play games or text their friends is something good. But it’s not something constant.
  • Permission seeking – screens have a habit of being very demanding of attention. It’s in the nature of it. So it’s good to encourage young people to ask permission before they start. This way the needs and priorities of others can be taken into account.
  • Openness – I favour having all screen time done in the public areas of the house (like the lounge or the kitchen). Of all these ideas, this is my number one. It’s a non-negotiable. This means kids are not isolated away from everyone else. It also minimises the potential for them engaging in or being contacted by risky people/things.
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  • Time-specific – I find that when I’m on-screen time flies by. I often find myself still working, writing or researching long into the night – because computers are fun and the internet is vast and very compelling. All the more reason to keep things to set times. Set a limit for kids’ screen-time and try to stick to it.
  • Join in & enjoy it – There’s no better way of spending time with your kids than doing something they love. Have them show you around their Minecraft world (my 9 years old daughter’s preference!) or teach you to play FIFA 2014 (I am absolutely hopeless at this!).
  • Emphasise safety – even if you have already a good talk to your kids or young people you work with about e-safety. It does no harm-and might do a lot of good-to mention it again from time to time. I drew my 14 year old’s attention to the Dark Internet story on the BBC this week.

Doubtless there are other things that you could add to this list. Please share these by commenting below – just scroll down or click here.

Final thought…

We work hard to teach young people-our own kids and those we work with-about safety. We teach them about strangers, about touch, about crossing the road and many others.
Ask yourself, “Do I work as hard to keep my kids safe from the dangers of the online world?” I don’t – but I’m working on it!

What do you think?…

  • What other ideas would you add to this list?

Please let us know your thoughts…   Leave a comment below or click here.

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© Jonny Matthew 2014