If parents, teachers and children can all work together to build a culture of safe and positive internet use, problems can be minimised.
Internet safety is a topic that should be regularly and authentically discussed in classrooms, staffrooms and homes.
Here are some key messages around internet safety that could help parents help their children.
In addition to following these tips, parents might want to install filters on their home computers.
1. Don’t let potential problems stop you from letting your child use technology for their education and personal interests.
2. Put computers in a communal area of the house and don’t allow portable internet devices (laptops, phones, tablets etc) in the bedroom.
3. Find out what your child is doing online. Talk to them regularly about what websites they visit and take the time sit with them as they use the internet. Make sure you’re familiar with how the sites that they visit work.
4. Encourage your child to tell you if they ever have a problem on the internet or if they’re ever unsure about anything. Reassure them that you won’t take away their connection to the internet if issues occur.
5. Remind your child to keep personal information private. YAPPY is a useful acronym to remind children of the personal information they should not share on public online spaces (blogs, forums etc.) – Your full name, address, phone number, passwords, your plans.
6. Remind your child that not everything on the internet is true and not all internet users tell the truth.
7. Don’t support your child to sign up for sites that are 13+ if they are under age (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram etc). Make sure your child sets their online accounts to private to limit access to people they know well (when they are old enough to sign up).
8. Encourage your child to balance their leisure time so they’re not spending all of their time online.
9. Create your own internet rules for your household and have your child agree to adhere to them.
10. Explore government resources for parents so you can educate yourself and protect your children on the Cybersmart website.
How to offer internet safety tips to parents is another question worth thinking about.
I am thinking of adding a page on my class blog with tips for families. Regularly publishing tips in the school newsletter could also be beneficial.
I am also considering inviting parents for a cyber safety afternoon early in the new school year. The event could involve children and parents learning about and discussing safe internet use together. Hopefully the lines of communication would then continue into the home environment.