If there was ever a day to talk about how to be safer on the internet, it’s Safer Internet Day – which as it turns out, is February 5th. Originally starting in Europe in 2004, Safer Internet Day is now a worldwide initiative and focuses on aspects of online safety from cyberbullying to social networking. The aim is to increase awareness of emerging issues in the online space, and this year the focus is on working “Together for a better internet”.
Educating and helping younger generations around how to practise safety when utilising online technologies is becoming an increasingly important issue. Since this is due primarily to children having access to advanced technologies at younger ages than ever before, ensuring that there is a continued focus on how to talk to our kids about the need for online privacy and awareness in language that they can understand is key.
So, what are some of the ways that we can help ensure our kids stay safe online?
- Turn on age restrictions on necessary devices
- Use web security to block inappropriate websites.
- Use child-friendly versions of applications like YouTube for Kids where content is screened for suitability for younger children.
- Turn on safe search for Google.
- Talk with your children about appropriate instant messaging/online chatting
- Ensure they understand that no private information about themselves should be given out online. This includes their ages, gender, school information, names, and location.
- Until your child is at an age where they understand the importance of privacy, restrict online talk to people your child knows personally already.
- For online gameplay, restrict online chat functions if necessary.
Prevention of cyberbullying:
- Explain both sides of cyberbullying – both how to respond/seek help if your child is a target of bullying online, as well as why and how it’s important not to bully others online
- This includes outline what bullying actually is in the online space, especially given that text-based communication can be understood differently than spoken communication due to a lack of tone.
- Instruct children to:
- Be nice to others.
- Not say mean things.
- Think before they type (just as they would before speaking to someone in person).
For more information on Safer Internet Day, please see: www.saferinternetday.org