Staying Safe in an Online World
Keeping people safe whilst online is an increasingly challenging task as technology rapidly develops. By understanding more about how your children are connecting online and what they are specifically using technology for, you will be better able to promote safe online behaviours.
Online safety is more achievable for everyone if there are open-ended conversations between the people that have life experiences (you) and those who seem au fait with technology (your daughter(s) ).
Blocking, banning and denial strategies do little to prepare your children for the online dangers that await them when you are not around. The luring, bright lights and dark alleyways of the internet should be discussed as they are encountered giving you a chance to provide timely advice and learn something about their use of technology at the same time.
Talk to your daughter
Just as you ask your daughter about her day at school, if she spends time on the internet in the evening, then have a chat about what she has done and seen online. If this is becomes a regular conversation, you will find it much easier to discuss issues as they arise.
Avoid banning technology
Whilst extremely tempting, and often the first response to such an issue, this will be the primary reason that your daughter will be reluctant to share information about cyber bullying.
They will not share information with you if your response is to restrict their use of their technology.
Talk to your daughter about how to develop strategies for her to have access, but with which you know that she is using this technology safely.
- No technology in bedrooms after 9:00pm (or appropriate) time, at night.
- No closed doors when using technology away from family areas.
Remember, no-one learns to swim if the swimming pools are all locked.
Report cyber bullying
If your daughter tells you that she has been cyber bullied, you, and your daughter, should do the following:
- save evidence so that you can show someone.
- block that contact from any further instances
- report that contact to whichever social network was being used.
Access to inappropriate sites
Even with the strongest parental controls, teenagers can often find a way to circumvent filters and access sites that would be considered inappropriate. If you go into their room and see them looking at something inappropriate, have a conversation about what they’re doing. If they’re embarrassed, ask them why. Ask them why you might be unhappy with what they’re looking at.
Protect against online grooming
Talk to your daughter about the dangers of talking with strangers online. Make sure they know that they should never give out personal information or arrange to meet with people they don’t know.
You should know who their close friends are and make it your business to find out about their “new” friends, especially “online” ones, whenever you can.
Keep an eye on social networks
If your daughter is using any form of social networking, have her show you how to set the privacy settings. If she doesn’t know, at least that is a starting point for you both to find out. If she has set privacy settings, great, but check them with her and ask questions about what she thinks she is showing other online users.
Children under 13 should not be on social networks at all.
Set up filtered controls
Whilst you are probably able to set up filtering for your home network, often this takes quite a bit of adjustment so that you can achieve the balance that you are after (safe browsing for family members versus access to a broad range of websites). If the controls are on, any device connected to your internet will be filtered through parental controls.
Once again – talk to your daughter
Worrying in silence is of no use to anyone. If you’re concerned about your daughter’s internet use then you should talk to her. If you think such a discussion with your daughter will be difficult, then ask a family friend, older cousin or sibling to have a chat. The inconvenience of any “difficult” discussion may well be better than some of the possible consequences from ignoring the situation.
Cyber-bullying is an issue that can cause significant harm. Please contact the school counsellors, here at Loreto College, for further advice and strategies. (email@example.com)
Should you have any queries, or wish to seek further information about how Loreto College can support you and your daughter’s safe use of technology, please contact the school.
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