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Published On: Mon, Feb 19th, 2018

Raising your child to be safe in the digital age

Children these days are growing up in a world that’s very different to that of kids from previous generations; technology has re-shaped childhood forever, with digital screens now increasingly central to both leisure time and formal education.

The struggle for parents now is in finding the best possible approach to raising their children in a digital age. How do you keep your child safe on the internet, how to encourage a healthy relationship with digital devices, and how can you keep up with the newest developments when younger people are becoming more tech literate, and adults, comparatively, less?

photo Kevin Phillips via Pixabay

Educate your children on digital permanence

It can be a difficult concept for anyone to comprehend, but it’s crucial digitally active children are aware that anything posted online, or uploaded to a digital platform, is stored permanently. The existence of applications like Snapchat can be misleading to users. Despite the platform’s unique feature of sending ‘snappy’ content that only transmits for a few seconds at a time, in truth, other users can capture these posts to view again later, and in some cases, uploads may be saved in Snapchat’s server. Indeed, all digital data creates a footprint which is near to impossible to remove entirely.

So how can you explain this complex concept to children? Luckily, there are plenty of resources available online to help you open this conversation up. Additionally, many schools, such as Kingscourt Private School in Hampshire, now have internet safety on the syllabus.

Utilize password protections

Most devices have inbuilt parental control features, such as password blocks on certain content and websites. Enabling these features is especially recommended where money is involved, Google Play or iTunes Store for instance, as children may not understand that downloading apps, or committing to in-app purchases, can result in a costly phone bill. As such, using parental controls protects your children, and yourself!

Teach them about the nasty side of social media

Digital connectivity has many benefits and will enable your child to stay connected with family and friends all over the world. However, there can be a dark side to social connectivity online; there’s certain anonymity of messaging via a digital device, which can make children and young adults more confident, and experimental, with how they engage with others. The persona they adopt online may be quite different to how they would act face-to-face; young users may be tempted to connect online with people they don’t know personally, or can get swept up in some aspect of cyberbullying. Teach your child not to say anything online that they wouldn’t say in ‘real’ life, and if they feel they are being victimized in any way, to tell you.

Encourage a healthy relationship with technology

Parents should lead by example, and as such, it may be your responsibility to demonstrate a healthy relationship with technology; try to put your smartphone away for valuable family time, keep an eye on what your child is up to online and intervene if you have any concerns about their digital behavior.

Author: Carol Trehearn

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