Keep Your Child Safe – Internet
Are your children safe on the internet? Really? Are you sure? Because the stats in Gwen Lewis’ latest post are frightening. Fortunately, Gwen also consulted experts for ways to protect our kids from harm online. #KeepYourChildSafeInternet
1 in 2 Kids Hide Risky Online Behaviour from Parents
When we see children throwing tantrums in the grocery store aisles or rocks at the park it’s easy to tell ourselves that our sons and daughters know better and would never behave in that kind of manner. In moments like this, it’s easy to scoff in disbelief while muttering under our breath, “My kid would never do that.”
It doesn’t matter if they are three or twenty-three, we hope we raised our children to know better and make the right decisions. Unfortunately, as experience has taught us, our kids will make mistakes as they navigate the world.
Today, one area we commonly see this at play is how a child behaves online. Sure, we have taught them not to cyberbully, sext or post compromising photos but our kids might not heed our words of wisdom – especially when it comes to risky online behaviours.
Unregulated Screen TIme
In fact, our boys and girls spend a mind-boggling 9 hours every day using a screen of some kind or another. This includes everything from watching television to scrolling on their beloved cellphones but we need to realize that this time is highly unregulated and kept away from the prying eyes of a parent.
While technology isn’t all bad, too much of a good thing can increase the likelihood a child will engage in risky online behaviours or be exposed to inappropriate content.
The Prevalence of Hiding Risky Online Behaviors
To put this in perspective, a recent study found one in two children hide risky online behaviour from parents. And, it gets worse.
At least 70% of our children have taken some measures to cover up their online behaviours from us on occasion. This might be a simple dimming of the screen to outright denial, but these findings are clear evidence that there is a strong digital divide between parents and kids.
To complicate this modern parenting issue, it is also believed that cyberbullying rates have tripled. Yes, tripled.
Today, 87 % of our kids have encountered this risky online behaviour.
Many experts are also proclaiming that sexting is now seen as a normal part of adolescence, likened to an upgraded version of “show me yours, I’ll show you mine”.
For parents, this is disheartening on many levels, especially when we are trying to teach our kids digital citizenship and guiding them as they navigate the ever-changing world of technology.
Social Media Dangers
Plus, we are hearing the experts warn us about dangers lurking on social media and the Internet. These can range anywhere from the surprising correlation between social media and higher rates of depression or anxiety to the more obvious threat of online predators.
Keeping Kids Safe From Risky Online Behaviors
Even though today’s devices can keep our kids connected to us in ways that we never imagined twenty years ago, research tells us it doesn’t necessarily mean our kids will seek help when things go wrong online.
Far too often, kids will keep these incidents to themselves and that will only increase their feelings of helplessness which can lead to depression, anxiety, and more.
So, what’s a parent to do?
Supervise when Necessary
Experts in developmental and child psychology recommend that we find a way to strike balance between parental supervision and autonomy. They have found kids tend to develop better coping skills if we are engaged actively while being mindful of a child’s need for independence. However, this is obviously easier said than done.
Create a Safe Space for Children to Open Up
Senior Advisor at European Schoolnet, Janice Richardson said,
“Parent education plays a major role in protecting children online. If children think their parents are able to calmly discuss the issues they encounter, they are much more likely to confide in them. That’s why it’s very important for parents to find out more about online threats, increase their own cyber savviness and to build trust with their children in order to be a part of their lives, whether they are online or offline. Let children know that whatever happens, you are always there to listen, support and help.”
Create a Family Media Plan
In addition, we can help our kids learn to moderate their behaviours, by creating a family media plan. In this written document, parents and kids write down all expectations and rules regarding media use.
This is an important proactive step because it exposes our children to the values we want to foster and the actions to avoid that could have negative consequences.
While this might not solve every problem or a kid’s tendency to crave privacy, it can open the doors for communication and help begin important discussions about risky online behaviours and digital safety.
What tips can you share for other parents when it comes to managing a child’s risky online behaviours?
About the Author
Gwen Lewis is a writer who lives in California. She has been in the fashion and health industry for years and loves writing on the topic to give tips from experience. In her free time, she loves to stay active and has just taken on learning how to surf.
You can find more of Gwen’s posts on Medium
What are you doing to make sure your children are safely surfing the net? Have you ever found them hiding risky online behaviour from you?
Some more safety tips in this post: