10 tips to empower families online.

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“We must empower children and young people to access and enjoy the opportunities and benefits of the digital world, be risk aware, but not fearful, and support them to develop skills to become digitally literate.” (Professor Tanya Byron of The Byron Review) 

To prepare children and young people we need to provide them with balanced and clear information and equip them with the right skills so that they can become critically aware and savvy digital users. This will help them to think about the content they find and post on the internet, manage their conduct and be risk aware…”

These are my top 10 tips for parents:

  • Continue to reinforce the online rule: “think before you click”!
  • Talk to your children about their ‘digital footprint’ or ‘digital profile’ both now and for their future.
  • Prepare strategies and scripts for kids to default to, should they find themselves in difficult situations.  e.g Code words to use when ringing a parent to come and pick them up, or rehearsed sentences to help them out of a tricky situation with friends.
  • Become engaged with your child’s day-to-day life, both online and offline. Establish a relationship of trust in your home by using open communication from a young age. This will prevent many children from looking up topics they want to know about online because they are too shy to go to a parent.
  • Set up a Cyber Contract for your home
  • Monitor your child’s online presence by using logging software, such asWindows Live Family Safety’ (Which sets activity  reports to monitor your computer activities,  allows parents to choose websites, games, and programs that children can access and enables parents to set time periods when sites can be accessed or locked) – FREE
  • Tell your children that you will not ban their use of technology if they come and tell you about something that has happened or about something they have seen online. Otherwise they will never come to you again.
  • No Spying – Create a culture of transparency in your home. Assure your children you will not sneak around to see what they are up to but you will very openly be checking their online behaviour to make sure they are safe.
  • Keep technology in apublic space at home. This also ensures good sleep habits if others are texting your child at 2am. 
  • Model appropriate online behaviour yourself.

Cyber safety seminars for parents can be found at ‘Family Smart’, here.
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  1. These are great tips. I think what resonated with me the most is 4. Building trust is hugely important, and carries over into the real world as well as the cyber world. Keeping those channels of communication open and honest really pays dividends, I believe.

  2. We never used to monitor what our oldest was doing with Facebook. But he got into trouble recently when he placed his mobile number for his friends to see.
    He had befriended a girl – who turned out not so nice. She ended up texting him at weird hours with things that should not be said. We ended up asking him to unfriend her, and he had to change his mobile number, and then change his settings on his facebook page. Was a big learning curve for our family!
    We are now more aware of what they are doing online.

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