online safety

5 Digital parenting beliefs you can kiss goodbye

With so much information going around about what is and isn’t appropriate for our kids to be doing online, it is little wonder parents are confused. Whilst it is a relatively new challenge, it doesn’t diminish the need ensure to be constantly  thinking about technology and devices and how they will fit in to the daily lives of ourselves and our kids. I hear lots of concern from parents, I hear lots of rules parents put in place and I hear a lot about the things parents shouldn’t be doing and the things they should be doing in order to keep their kids safe and responsible with technology and the online world. To help eliminate some of the ‘noise’…here are a few beliefs I hear, that I believe you can pretty much kiss goodbye.

These are the statements that have now been superseded by the advances to the technology and the increased immersion of our kids and ourselves into a world that relies on this technology for a large portion of our information, our entertainment and our social interaction.

Their smartphone is only for making calls and texting

Seriously, no kid is going to carry around the internet at their fingertips and not use it! A little like letting them loose in a candy store and telling them to buy an apple. A child is not going to simply send a message to an individual friend as a text every time, when they can take a picture, edit a video, add some text, choose their recipients and engage in back and forth banter with a larger group. Teach them instead how to interact safely and think critically, or don’t buy them a smart phone.

They will learn this stuff at school

Too often parents believe that it is a schools responsibility to teach their kids about cyber safety issues. We can’t forget that this teaching must be an ongoing process that requires lots of communication which needs to be as dynamic as the technology and it needs to start at home.  As the technology changes, so too will your child and so too must your expectations. This is not something that can be learnt in a one off cyber safety lecture or school incursion. In saying that, having parents turn up to information nights about their kids use of technology and the online world would be a really good start, and the one thing many parents are neglecting to do.

My child is young, I don’t need to worry about this stuff

Certainly your 2 year old may not have yet opened a Twitter account but the moment they first swipe a screen or borrow your phone for a game or story, then they are old enough. As parents we need to start thinking about how the technology will be incorporated into the lives of our families from the beginning. With many schools adopting BYOD programs some kids as young as 6 will be walking around with internet enabled devices in their schoolbags. So pretty much any age, is never too young to start thinking about this ‘stuff’.

My child is only playing the computer in the lounge room so I know what they are doing

Any child that is allowed to a friends house, that has an iPod touch, that goes on a bus to school, that plays with other kids, that knows how to log in to free wifi…..any child can get access to the internet away from the eyes of the parent. Don’t be fooled in to thinking they won’t have a chance to see things you don’t want them to, or access sites they shouldn’t. Kids are naturally curious, they are good at the tech stuff and they will find a way around your controls.

My child knows everything, I could never keep up

We can never protect our kids from everything. There will be things in life that are completely out of all our hands. There will also be some instances where it is our teaching that has kept them safe. We teach them to cross a road and drive a car despite knowing that accidents can still happen. But we give it a good try. We give them all the skills we can to protect themselves. The same must be said for their life online. They may know the tech stuff, but our years of life experience, render us the ‘wise ones’. We need to help them with the critical thinking and behaviours. We can’t throw our hands in the air and say its all too hard. We may not be able to know everything our kids are doing online, but we need to make an effort to have enough knowledge and understanding to be relevant in our teaching.

We can’t afford to sit back and rest on the teachings of the past or hope others will step in for us. As always, keep up to date, keep talking to your kids and enjoy all the great things the technology has to offer.


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This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. katepickle

    As always… fabulous advice!
    I see some parents I know sticking their heads in the sand about this stuff… they think they’ll deal with it later, or their child won’t do anything terrible, or they simply don’t want to tackle the hard conversations… but I’d rather have the hard conversations now, than after something has happened!

    1. Martine Oglethorpe

      Thanks Kate, and after visiting another Primary school this week it is clear that parents are not realising what their kids are doing and have never had conversations about it either.

  2. Amy@HandbagMafia

    Fabulous advice and so true. Kids know a lot but not the first thing about internet safety and privacy- it’s part of parenting these days!

    1. Martine Oglethorpe

      It absolutely is isn’t Amy? It should all be wrapped up as part of everyday parenting, because for our kids this is all one world.

  3. Robyn

    Brilliant advice and like you say the internet is everywhere. My Mr 8 is definitely way more tech savvy than I ever imagined and I’ve got to constantly keep an eye on what he’s up to. I did check the google search on our office computer the other day and the last search was “how to get a goat into space!”

    1. Martine Oglethorpe

      Thanks Robyn…and that is a very interesting search! Lots of worse things one could be trying to do!!

  4. EssentiallyJess

    Great reminders Martine. I’ve noticed my older girl is using the internet a lot more for school stuff, and it’s hard, even with the computer being in a public space, to watch her every single minute. I definitely need to be having more conversations about this stuff, to keep her safe.

    1. Martine Oglethorpe

      Thanks Jess. It does get tricky when they use it for school as they are generally searching and researching a lot too, which means we have to be conscious of the sorts of things they may be seeing.

  5. Eva @ The Multitasking Mummy

    And this is what annoys and worries me for when my son goes to school. No matter what I teach him and what rules I implement at home, if other parents decide to let a 6 year old bring an internet enabled device/phone to school which can connect to the internet, well then my efforts have gone out the window. I don’t have any children in school and perhaps I’m a bit behind the times, but is that normal?

    1. Martine Oglethorpe

      I guess the problem is, that some schools actually will be implementing BYOD programmes even for as young as 6 year olds. So the truth is, bringing a device to school will become more of the norm. That is why I believe it is imperative that all parents have a good understanding of what kids are capable of doing so they can help teach and guide their kids.

  6. Kirsty @ My Home Truths

    My kids’ school is holding an information session for students on cyber-safety soon. I might request that they hold a similar session for parents too – I know I feel I’m flailing about most of the time and I bet I’m not the only one. Thanks for this Martine!

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