The internet and social media are part of everyday life as the various platforms provide a range of uses from discussion, news, collaboration, sharing and interacting. With such an array of technology: computers, laptops, tablets, game consoles and smart phones we can connect with anyone, at anytime from anywhere around the world.
Technology is here to stay and while it can offer up many opportunities, it also comes with risks – especially for children. As a parent, I know how difficult it is to keep up to date with the latest gadget or social media platform. It was only six months ago, that I eventually got my head round Snap Chat before another one came on the scene – Twitch!
These are just a few applications I have needed to find out about recently to educate myself as a parent, so this article is about sharing with you the hints and tips I have found to keep my children safe online.
Limiting online/screen time
OFCOM completed a survey in England during 2015 that showed the amount of time children spent online doubled between 2005 to 2015 from 6.2 hours to 15 hours per week. Research conducted by the University of Bristol in 2010, which involved more than 1,000 children aged about 10, found that children who spend longer than two hours a day in front of a computer or TV are more likely to suffer psychological difficulties than other youngsters.
You may want to consider limiting your child’s time online/screen time, there are many controls you can download to do this, check with your internet service provider to see what they offer in terms of setting times for when the internet comes on / goes off.
Be age aware
What is appropriate for a teenager is not ok for an 8-year-old. Use your own judgement based on your own child and be aware of the age restrictions on games and websites. Remember the age limits are guidelines, if you think your child isn’t ready for the age specified make that judgement yourself.
It may be helpful to set guidelines for your child but remember to stick to them! Consistency is very important. Sit down with your child and set the rules together but also talk about the dangers of being online so they know to come to you if they have a problem. Talk to children about their use of, and behaviour in the on-line world and have ongoing discussions with them.
While it is easy to see what, your child is viewing when you are in the same room, it becomes more difficult when devices are in the bedroom. Recent researched showed that using phones and tablets before bed stops kids from sleeping and can lead to health issues and disrupted sleep in children. Consider removing any online devices from their bedroom when they are due to go to sleep.
To keep yourself updated visit https://ceop.police.uk/safety-centre/ where you can get information on all things to do with online safety. It’s a great place to find out all the information you need to know to keep your child safe online, but it is also the place you can go to if you need to make a report about online safety issues of any kind.
Remember, communication is very important so above all, talk to your child and encourage them to discuss any concerns with you. Consider parental controls on devices and be aware of where your child goes when online.
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