For some, their children are already more advanced than they are and for others, they’re tasked with introducing their child to something they don’t fully understand. While the Internet can be a scary place full of risks and dangers, it’s also a wonderful source of knowledge – so keeping kids safe online without hindering their learning can be a challenge.
Making the decision to protect your children online is an easy one, but making it happen takes cooperation from your kids. Cyber Expert Jordan Foster from ySafe has shared her insights on how to start the conversation about cyber safety with your family to ensure they grow up to be good digital citizens.
1. Do your research
"The first step in discussing cyber safety with your kids is to educate yourself", says Jordan. "There are many useful resources available online including Common Sense Media and the Family Zone blog".
Both sites include information on current online risks, dangerous or unsafe apps and helpful advice from online safety experts.
2. Start conversations early, but remember it’s never too late to start
"As soon as your child starts using connected devices, they should be familiar with the concept of access routines and boundaries. Make a big deal of limits around intervals and time of day" she explains. "As they grow and start to use social media, the conversation will need to focus more on stranger danger and cyber safety. For older children already well versed in technology, it’s never too late to discuss how their social media habits and online behavior can impact them. Remind your children that what they post online stays online."
3. Have regular conversations
"Find regular opportunities to discuss cyber safety with your children; during family dinner times, upon buying them a new device or when they’re using their devices", says Jordan.
It’s important to constantly reinforce the message of cyber safety, especially with younger children. Jordan also suggests taking the time to have a family discussion as you learn about new risks or information from suggested resources. "Topical conversations about new risks or dangerous apps as informed by the media, will resonate with kids. When a dangerous app becomes popular, there’s a chance one of your children might be using it. Like Musical.ly for example", she says.
4. Establish family boundaries and rules
Creating rules and boundaries as a family is the best way forward. "I find parents often want to ban social media altogether upon learning more about the risks involved, but it’s hard to do that without impacting your child’s social development", says Jordan.
By agreeing to boundaries and rules, you’re able to meet your child in the middle and discuss what is reasonable and appropriate use of the internet and their devices.
Constantly reinforcing the message of cyber safety goes a long way to creating good digital citizens in kids. Reach out to Family Zone for more information on how to keep your kids safe online.