Despite being a cyber safety consultant and counsellor of many families that have struggled with online safety issues, my most important job is as a mother to 5 boys. There is no greater motivation for me to research the best ways to ensure responsible online use than the social, emotional and physical safety of my own children.
As a result there are many different ways I advocate for this to happen. There are many strategies, settings and skills that parents and kids need to understand. A few weeks ago I told you about the 4 things parents shouldn’t do with their kids online. Today, I am am reversing this to share with you the 4 things that I am doing everyday to help keep my kids safe online.
1. Remain a step ahead
From the toddler to the teen we always need to be a step ahead. Many parents believe this is nigh on impossible as our kids know so much. This is true. But we are the wise ones (or supposed to be) so use those understandings of human nature, cause and effect and consequence to keep ahead of our kids, even if they are a step ahead in the technology. Don’t fall into the trap of feeling left behind and thus refuse to attempt to understand. I may not know every app my kids are on but I am aware of what is out there, the skills they need to handle certain online interactions and I am constantly reminding them of the traps that others fall into.
2. Talk talk talk
Communicate and Engage. My kids have been know to say the odd “mum we do know that by now..…not everyone has a blogger cyber lady for a mum so I think we are getting the picture!” Well damn right you will get the picture as I will continue to bring up this stuff. I try not to do it in a nagging way as I am well aware they would tune out quicker than I do watching the cricket on TV, but I try to bring it up more as a conversation or as a random question like, “Hey what would you do if someone asked you to send this? “And then I ask questions to help them come up with their own reasoning. For example, “why wouldn’t you send your best friend a picture of your bum, even if it was just to be funny?” It is far more effective to have them come up with their own realisations rather than constantly nag at them to get your point across. The main thing is to keep communicating. As they get older their use of the Internet will evolve and our conversations will need to mirror those changes. If we have engaged with them before about all manner of online issues we are far more likely to have them remember those conversations when challenges arise.
3. Insist on Boundaries
I have written many times about the need for time limits, for starting early, for having rules about when and where devices can be used, what can be downloaded, uploaded, who can be friended, followed and liked and all manner of rules to ensure the safety of their use. My internet contract has also been a great way for me to ensure those rules get a reminder every now and then as we continue to revisit and discuss whenever boundaries begin to be overstepped. Whatever the rules of your family, remember kids actually do want boundaries and need them to feel secure in both the offline and online worlds.
4. Secure the house
Just as we make sure our doors are locked at night, so too must we ensure that the doors to the online world are safe and secure whilst they are at home. With my Cybersafe 247 wireless modem, I know that the only internet connection my kids can get at home is when they are connected via the home wireless network. Having a modem that allows me to control the content they see, the sites they visit and even the hours certain sites are available to them is one of the best ways I retain peace of mind. Whilst in a conference last week I was secure in knowing that whilst my kids were home, they had no way of seeing any content or participating in any connections that were inappropriate whilst they were at home. My mum is gorgeous and helpful but the kids may have otherwise pulled the wool over her eyes had they needed to! Or even if they didn’t intend to, there is all manner of stuff online their little eyes don’t need to be viewing.
So yes I will continue to research and test out the best ways to create responsible young Internet users who will remain safe online. These 4 strategies will always form the backbone to any new elements of online safety.
This is not a sponsored post, however I do have an affiliate link to the Cybersafe246 modem because I really do think it is an amazing product and like nothing else I have found to cover all devices from the Mac to the PC to the ipad, ipod touch and the xbox. If you would like to try it, you can mention The Modern Parent for a 30 day free trial.
What are some of the ways you are helping keep your kids safe online?