It is not a surprise that, children are more technology savvy and often know more about the Internet than their parents or teachers.
The Question now is; amidst the quest to be more on the internet, how then can online safety for children be achieved?
To keep children safe online, parents and care givers should:
1. Anticipate risks: Anticipation of risks will lead to appropriate control measures being put in place before a child is allowed access to digital devices or the internet. Some of these anticipatory control measures include:
Parental education: As a parent, stay informed and educated about the use of your devices and the devices your child has access to.
Stay informed on various social network sites and what happens on them. Stay informed and better educated than your children and wards. Make them understand that you know as much or more than they do. Therefore, be their go-to person for information on what to do with the device you eventually give them access to. Care Givers should be trained on how to guide children in online activities: Schools have adopted the use of online platforms for education. Care must be taken to educate the teachers and prepare them for the avalanche of questions from children, on the use of various online applications or whatever information the children encounter online.
2 NCC Toll Free Line: 622 Cece Yara Foundation: 08008008001 (for children, toll free)07007007001 (for adults, non toll free)
The teachers are major support networks and pillars in the life of any child. They are oftentimes as trusted as parents are. Install child appropriate apps/search engines: Before a device is given to a child, age appropriate applications should first be installed on it. This will protect the child from inadvertently stumbling into wrong sites that appear as pop-ups. Install firewall: Firewalls act as content filters. They help make sure non-age appropriate content does not appear on the child’s device. Set timers on all devices used by the child: This helps to create discipline and structure for the child. Ensure clear time boundaries are set.
3. Empower the child: This is one of the most important steps any parent can take. There is a sense of privacy associated with being online. Parents will not always be there when children go online. Adopting a child–centric approach to the use of the internet prepares the child for unforeseen issues and assures the child of the trust and respect of his/her parent.
NCC Toll Free Line: 622Cece Yara Foundation: 08008008001 (for children, toll free)07007007001(for adults, non toll free)Children will enjoy the benefits and advantages of the internet when they know how to stay in control and not allow themselves to be victims of the platforms and devices
a.Set ground rules and instructions in collaboration with the child.
b.Teach children basic online safety skills and how to apply them.
4. Pay attention/be observant: As children spend more time online, observe behavioral patterns and changes. Recognize unusual activities, actions and reactions. Where any change is observed, calmly address those changes and allow the child sufficient room to talk without being judgmental. The home is a safety net for children. It is also the best support system that allows an abused child recover from abuse and provides a means for managing post abuse trauma. Children need to know they can go to their parents with whatever concerns they encounter online.
5. Discuss and Engage your Children: Ask how your children use the internet. Make them show you some of their favorite sites and discuss with them, make them aware that there are things on the internet which may upset them and that they can always talkto you or any trusted adult. Make sure your child realizes that he or she should never give out personal details, such as name, address, school, and telephone numbers, to online friends they do not know in the real world.