The internet and social media are part of our daily lives. With them, however, come safety concerns for our children. As many of you know, there have been disturbing and potentially dangerous “hoaxes” spreading on social media, YouTube, and other places on the internet. As parents and educators it is essential that we have the tools we need to keep our children and students safe.
The following tips are important to keep in mind:
- BE PRESENT
It is important for adults to be present when children are online or engaging is social media. Being present will give you knowledge as to what your child is doing digitally and opportunities to discuss, support, or stop certain activities.
- ESTABLISH RULES/EXPECTATIONS
Children need boundaries in much of what they do day to day. This is especially important when discussing online or digital activities. Establish rules about the times children are able to be online, what social media (if any) platforms they are allowed to use, and what is and is not appropriate online.
- DEVICE SETTINGS & PARENTAL CONTROLS
Ensure that all of your devices, including streaming platforms, are set to restrict the types of content your child can access. This will allow you to monitor their activities and can help prevent inappropriate types of media. For example, you can set YouTube to turn off “suggested auto-play” on videos to stop your child from viewing content that they have not directly selected. YouTube also has a “Kids YouTube”, this platform makes efforts to block any inappropriate videos for children.
- TALK REGULARLY WITH YOUR CHILD
Open communication is important in helping children develop the confidence and skills to make appropriate online decisions. We want our children to feel comfortable to come to adults when they see inappropriate content. They need to feel secure that adults will understand and be supportive.
- REPORT AND BLOCK
Parental controls are not foolproof. Distressing and/or harmful material can find ways around the algorithms. Due to this, it is important for adults to flag and report any inappropriate or harmful material that gets around the set controls.
There are many resources designed to support and educate parents around internet and online safety. The following are two websites that may be helpful. Please find what best fits your family’s needs.