If a child is old enough to go online, then they are old enough to begin thinking about internet safety. In the main, the youngest of children should always be carefully monitored when online. They should not have a computer in their bedroom but should access screens in shared, family rooms where you can see what they are doing.
Talking about the internet with children involves more than telling them not to reveal their age or location online. There are other considerations and trust is a big part of letting your child have more freedom as this junior school in London believes.
The Internet is like a window
This is a good analogy for children to help them understand the risks involved in accessing the internet. Explain to your child that the internet is like a big door – every person with the internet in their home has the option to open the door and let people in – or to keep it closed and just look out.
Opening the door includes actions like –
- Sharing your photograph
- Sharing your name, address, age
- Using a webcam
- Talking to strangers
Keeping the door closed includes –
- Using an antivirus
- Avoiding chat rooms and websites with chat
- Never sharing your email address unless pre-approved by a parent
Truth and lies
It’s vital that parents talk to older children about facts and fact checking. Explain to them how anyone in the world can make a website and put information on it but that not everything on the internet is true.
Memes and infographics can be made by people with an agenda. Fake facts can be shared and re-shared until they’re so widespread that they become dangerous. Teach your teens how to fact-check by using reliable news sites to check dates and names.
DMs and strangers
It’s quite commonplace for teenagers to DM (Direct Message) other teens on apps like Instagram and Snapchat. These are quite often innocent – the person messaging may know someone your teen knows and want to introduce themselves for example. But your teen needs to know that not everyone is who they say they are and that getting into conversations with a stranger behind a screen holds many risks. Your child should also know never to share photographs with people they do not know online. Don’t assume your teen is savvy. Make certain of it.