Keeping Kids Safe Online (Five Questions I Ask My Own Teenagers)
When my kids were small, they lived life blissfully unaware of any potential danger around them. They would run onto the road to chase a ball or climb a fence they had no way of getting down from. I worked really hard to keep them safe, and besides a few broken bones (which happened when I wasn’t looking!) I think I did a pretty good job.
Now they are teenagers they are faced with new threats, which they remain similarly unaware of. They think they know about cyber bullying, sexting, pornography, identity theft and the like, but they really haven’t lived long enough to understand the full impact of any of them. With the same intention, effort and dedication I had when they were young, I am now focussing my efforts on keeping them safe online.
For me, keeping my kids safe online starts with open and continued conversation. It’s not about keeping them off the internet, but ensuring the time they spent there is positive. It’s the QUALITY of what they engage in rather than just the QUANTITY that we need to concern ourselves with.
Here are five questions that may help you start a conversation with your tween or teen today:
Have you ever googled your name to see what comes up?
I ask my teenagers this question regularly for a few reasons. Firstly, to remind them about both their privacy settings and secondly, their digital footprint.
This article posted by Common Sense Media talks about our kid’s privacy online: Click Here
What is your favourite app?
Their interests online are constantly changing and it’s literally impossible to keep up without their help. I enjoy being taught about the latest Instagram or SnapChat updates by my teenagers. They are my best teacher and often send me links to things I might be interested in.
This article by Code9Parents talks about the app, Google Docs: Click Here
What should we be doing to educate and protect your younger brothers / sisters online?
Older siblings are usually much more concerned about their brothers and sisters than we give them credit for. They also notice things we don’t! Asking for their input gives them the opportunity to use what they have learnt to help others. This is something that I have found hugely helpful in my own life, and also the families I have worked with. So parents, don’t be afraid to ASK and get their opinion.
What is the best thing you have seen online this week?
Unfortunately, we have to expect they will come across inappropriate content online. It’s not “if” it’s “when”. I think it is important to give teenagers a safe place to talk honestly. Be careful not to over react but work out solutions with them. However, we also talk about the benefits of the internet as well! Keep it positive parents! It’s not all bad.
This article by Common Sense Media talks about 10 of the best podcasts for kids: Click Here
How do you respond to criticism or hate online?
The choices our teens make online determine whether they get more hate or less hate, more pornography or less pornography, etc….you get the idea. How they respond the first time they come across a challenge will make a great difference to where it leads them. Delete, block, report to an adult….three steps every teenager needs to be reminded of regularly.
This awesome article by SBS and shared by The Cyber Safety Lady talks shares concerns about how few young people talk to adults about online bullying: Click Here
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Content from this blog is from ‘Parenting Teenage Girls in the Age of a New Normal' available from michellemitchell.org
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