Why parents of Preschoolers need to learn about Cybersafety

Why do parents of toddlers and preschoolers need to start learning now all they can about technology, the online world and cyber safety? Surely this is something for the tween and teen parents? Something to keep in mind for later?

When I talk about technology and cybersafety to parents of preschoolers the most common responses are along the lines of:

 

1) “They (our kids) will probably know much more than me so I can’t even imagine trying to keep up with them”

2) “At least I have plenty of time before they start using technology and I have to be concerned about safety etc”

I know it may not be as pressing as toilet training, tantrums or sleep and settling, but as a mother who has just packed off her baby boy to high school….that time goes so very fast, and it will be an issue before you know it.

I believe very strongly however, that these parents are in the very best position to learn all they can about the online world and they should start straight away. The minute their baby or toddler starts swiping on their iPad, watching a Play School segment on Youtube or listening to a Dora the Explorer story App, they are part of the online world and are well on their way to being immersed in the ‘gadget technology’.   A child in kinder or preschool or even still at home with mum, is so very close to spending a good deal of time online. Whilst parents may be able to prohibit the use of technology during these years, once they hit school they will be smack bang in the midst of the technology. And even sooner if there are older siblings.

Many parents believe that this cyber stuff is one of the challenges they will face in the future. Here is why I think parents of preschoolers are in a better position than any, to start  becoming aware of the online world:

 

  • Lessons Learned: We have had the internet for 20 years now. We are now aware of things like online predators, sexting, cyberbullying, identity theft and our digital footprints. These are things that parents wouldnt have perceived as an issue when they bought home their bundles of joy 16 years ago.
  • Getting in Early: Any behaviours that are learnt early have a far better chance of sticking through adolescents. Being able to teach your kids about time limits , privacy and social etiquette the moment they start using technology gives them a far better chance of regulating their own behaviour later. It just needs to be kept to a level that meets their age and development and needs to be revisited regularly as their needs change.
  • Parents are Online: Parents with young children today are probably already far more comfortable with technology than those parents of previous years gone by. With the majority of people on social media daily, it is a lot easier for parents to keep abreast of what is going on with the online world and transfer this knowledge to their children.
  • Abundance of Resources: We now have so many resources available to help parents awareness of some of the things kids are doing online, as well as the strategies needed to best deal with some of the pitfalls. There are websites, teaching aides, forums, privacy settings and security software all aimed at helping us keep our kids safe.

 

Once again it is nigh on impossible for parents to keep up with all their kids are doing online. It is imperative however we remain aware and vigilant, particularly in those early years when their skills and ideas about online life are being formed. If they begin with boundaries from a young age, have constant communication about the online world and use the technology together with their kids, then parents have a far better chance of successfully guiding them through the adolescent years when their control will diminish with age!

 

And for any kinder, preschool or community group that wants a presentation by The Modern Parent to help parents understand the world of parenting and technology…..then please feel free to contact me! Blatant plug there, but I do love talking to the parents of preschoolers.

How old were you kids when they first used engaged with technology? 

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This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. So very true about kids being exposed to all the wonders of the Internet at earlier and earlier ages. My Two year old navigates her way around the iPad with the greatest if ease.

    1. Yes 2 year olds are swiping with the rest of us everywhere!

  2. It was scary to watch my (then) 18month old swipe his first lock screen. There was no looking back after that. Education is our best tool in keeping our children safe.

    #teamIBOT

  3. It is kind of freaky thinking about that – but something we need to be mindful of – thanks for the wake-up call! Emily

  4. Oh dear, I worry about mine increasingly. My hubby is in IT and always has had iGadgets around. So both girls now play with iPods and iPads at 2 and 4. The eldest started later than the youngest but it’s hard to stop the youngest when big sis is playing a game or watching a movie. Whilst I’ve appreciated some of the skills they’ve learnt from the games eg: spelling, colours, numbers, matching games, I do worry they are not developing other skills. I think we need to set up a time limit, as you have suggested. Trouble is, as role models, hubby is online a lot so that’s what they see. I am on a fair bit too but I am very conscious about it. Definitely one of those things to be proactive about! Thanks, Martine.

    1. Thanks Veronica. And yes certainly it gets earlier with the younger siblings. We do have to role model good behaviour as well. Sometimes this is difficult if this is our job, so we need them to understand that we dont need to all play by the same rules.

  5. My girls are already very adapt at using our idevices. My Mum got a new smartphone this week and she’s joking about bringing it up to them so they can teach her how to use it. I use time on the ipad as a reward, so that’s how I monitor their time online. As they get older I’ll need some more tricks in my arsenal.
    I did love the review you did of that iphone case that covered the home key – you’re right, we have so many resources at our disposal now.
    Cheers, Amanda

    1. Giving tech time as a reward is another good way to make them recognise the importance of not having it always at their disposal. And lets face it…a good bribery tool!

  6. I’m reading this while both my boys are completely engrossed in their iPads. They just turned 3! I’m always seeing what’s out there and making sure that we’ve got age appropriate apps for the boys. But I’m a bit of a geek and just love my technology anyway 🙂

    1. Yes Grace it certainly helps if you have a love of the gadgets yourself! And there are so may great apps out there for all age groups.

  7. The best tool for a parent is to simply be aware of what is out there. A parent should be up to date with technology as well and model what it means to use technology responsibly.

  8. Thanks Martine for this post. Now a days kids are exposed to the internet at an early age. I am associated with a Preschool in Yorba Linda and have seen that most parents don’t keep a proper check on what their kid is checking out. This post should be a wake up call for them.

    1. Thanks Clarice, I guess it is a learning experience for us all, but we definitely need to be more aware.

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