Many modern parents are facing the challenges that a fairly new source of worldwide information has to offer. Besides the internet’s ability to shrink the world in terms of communication and literally place information at our fingertips, it is also filled with a world of potential dangers.
What dangers are out there?
The internet is filled with content that is inappropriate for young people. As much as it can be used to enrich the world, it can also be used as a tool to promote negative and discriminatory philosophies. Moreover, the real danger emerges when abusers are able to directly contact young people and easily create opportunities to abuse them. “Cyber bullying” has become a real danger, and chatrooms are not always safe. Unfortunately, we cannot subject every person who makes online contact with our children to a DBS check because predators are skilled in keeping their activities secret.
A parent’s checklist for online safety.
Parent-child transparency is essential. Encourage young people to talk about people they have met or things that they have seen. Don’t make them fearful of telling you what they’ve seen, but explain the dangers that can come their way if they are careless.
Ground rule number one should be that no personal information should be shared under any circumstances. It would be great if one could do an online dbs check on someone you find suspicious, but unfortunately, only employers and licensing bodies can do that. The only alternative is to emphasise the importance of online privacy to your children.
Don’t leave the judgement solely up to your children. Monitor the sites they frequent and let them use the internet in communal spaces where you can hear what is going on.
The NHS wants young people to go onto and advises parents to encourage young people to tell an adult if they come across obscene suggestions or images that make them feel uncomfortable.
There are many great websites that can also help in this regard. You could also have a look at Childline, Net Aware, Childnet’s Kidsmart and Safekids for more guidance on this subject.
Don’t just give your children free reign on their mobile devices. If you know which games they are playing and which sites they are accessing, you can help keep them safe.