My son is in his last year at primary school, seriously where has the time gone? Next September he is off to secondary school. With it comes more worries for me as he sets off more independently into the world. I have written before about helping keep your child safe online but I think as he gets closer to that next step in his life I am getting more anxious.
Currently he has a very basic mobile just to keep in touch on the rare occasions he plays out. It doesn’t go on the internet it’s just for me to call him and him to call me. He has not asked for anything more and I haven’t encouraged it by offering a more sophisticated mobile phone. It’s not a race to grow up there will be plenty of time to use the internet when he is ready.
He can take pictures and make little videos. I keep an eye on what he does on there, as much as children like their privacy we do need to know what they are up too. Although, if you can get them to talk openly and as long as you know they will come to you if they have any concerns, then they have earnt the right to their privacy. Keep chatting about the types of things they might see online. Mention some of the problems they may encounter like cyberbullying or inappropriate content.
I have a feeling when he starts his new school he will see his friends with fancier phones. At that point he will want one that can connect to the internet. I have been lucky despite a few of his friends already having Instagram he has shown no interest in social media.
Even so, there are precautions I plan on taking ready for September 2018.
Set Ground Rules
Our ground rule is that they are not allowed access to technology once they have gone to bed. It’s a ground rule I hope to continue but if they did start trying to sneak access to their devices then I would make sure the wi-fi was turned off at bedtime. Although I don’t think they would try because we have had this rule established for a long time so they seem happier to go along with it. If you set the ground rules right at the start they will be easier for your children to accept and follow. It’s what they are used to.
Mobile Phone Security
It’s important to think about the security you have on your child’s mobile phone. Kaspersky security cloud sounds ideal as it senses new dangers and has a security advisor which lets you know about the types of threats that can affect what you’re currently doing online. This is good if you’re new to using technology and unsure of the problems you might encounter. When your children are out of the house and using public WiFi you will be glad of the extra safeguards to protect them. At home, you can lock down your internet connection. We have BT parental controls in place here but you do not have that luxury in the wider world.
Follow the age recommendations
Some of the children in the school are very young to already have social media accounts. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook all have recommended ages of 13+. I think by then hopefully children are more responsible and aware of the risks so if you can put off your children using social media until 13 all the better.
Make sure your familiar with social media
If you know your way around Facebook, Instagram and twitter show your children how to lock down their accounts. Make sure only invited friends can see their content. When the time comes to use social media you want them to do so as safely as possible. It’s scary to think how many people still have accounts that are completely open to the public. Also, be aware some children get caught up wanting the most followers or “friends”. But teach your child to only accept people they know in real life.
Having the chat about online safety
I want my boys to be aware of some of the things others might write to gain their trust. If anyone asks them to keep something secret I want them to flag it to me. They need to know to keep their information private. I make it quite clear that whatever anyone writes even if you feel you have got yourself into a difficult situation remember your parents have your back. Don’t be persuaded into doing something you don’t feel comfortable about.
Hopefully by having some guidelines in place, decent mobile security and open feedback in the family your children can safely enjoy what the digital world has to offer.