Top tips for keeping kids safe online
Why your kids are not safe online
A generation of Australian kids is accessing adult content from as young as seven. This is due to a lack of parental controls and unrestricted access to the Internet, according to latest research from Family Zone.
The nation-wide survey – which interviewed 774 families – showed that 56% of Australian parents have no online parental controls in place and more than 25% have no idea how to protect their kids on digital devices.
From the results, it was estimated that over 1.6 million Aussie kids are at risk online.
Family Zone’s inaugural Cyber Safety Report revealed 76% of parents admitted to not knowing if their children had accessed adult content such as violent clips or pornography online.
“Parents are often misaligned between what they think they’re children are doing online versus what their children are really doing online,” said Jordan Foster, psychologist and Director of ySafe, facilitators for seminars on children’s online behaviour for students, parents and teachers.
“Much of the inappropriate content that children are accessing is also found within sites like YouTube, where parents think their kids are only accessing safe content. On top of this we know children can spend excessive amounts of time on their digital devices.
“Short of having a parental software control at home, it’s hard to see how parents are truly aware of what is happening on their kid’s devices.”
Despite the overwhelming results, Foster said there are a range of ways to engage with kids to both protect them, and empower them, to make safe decisions online.
Below are her top five ways to protect your kids online and establish a positive dialogue within your family.
- Get Involved
Similar to helping children with their homework or encouraging them in their sporting endeavours, parents should be involved with their child’s technology use.
Parents should speak to their children about online safety. Foster suggests setting up their social media profiles for them; by doing this, parents can make sure the right privacy settings are in place and provides them with an opportunity to speak about online safety.
- Set Clear Rules and Boundaries
Psychology research shows kids need clear structure and rules to follow. Never has the point been more pertinent than with technology use.
Setting clear rules and boundaries is a great way to manage kid’s online activity and lay the foundations for responsible internet use, and allows parents to monitor activity.
- Make Cyber Safety a Family Talking Point
By making cyber safety a regular conversation topic in your home, everybody has the opportunity to learn more about staying safe online. Parents should talk to their kids about cyber-bullying, online predators and the dangers of sharing information online.
If conversation doesn’t work, try turning it in to a game like a quiz. Whichever way parents decide to approach the conversation they need to remember; repeated messages are strong messages.
If the conversation isn’t keeping everyone engaged, you can make it into a fun quiz-style game! However you choose to do it remember; repeated messages are strong messages.
- Utilise Parental Control Software
Parental control software provides parents with the best chance to manage their child’s online behaviours effectively. These tools can help set your child’s bedtime, limit their access to inappropriate social media platforms and protect them from frightening online content.
Whether it is as benign as stopping your child from looking at Snapchat while they are supposed to be doing their homework or restricting adult content from entering your kid’s devices, parental control software is a safety net for families.
- Encourage Balance
As a Child and Adolescent Psychologist, many of the problems that Foster sees are linked to excessive screen time. It is vital that parents promote balance and time for ‘digital detox’.
Parental control software can help with this by cutting off your child’s access to the internet. Parents should supplement the internet free time by taking kids out to the park, beach or recreational facility so they can associate ‘no internet’ time with fun time.
Tim Levy is the co-founder and managing director of Family Zone. Levy said he built theAustralian company in response to the rapidly evolving digital and social landscape and wanted to give parents a way to take back control of their children’s online activity.
“Family Zone has been created by Australian parents, for Australian parents to help children stay safe online and address the concerns our Cyber Safety Report has unveiled,” Levy said.
“Australian parents no longer have to feel helpless or frustrated with their children’s online behaviour and at times addictions. Until now, there was no universal control platform which could be applied to every device in and out of the home. Family Zone provides parents with peace of mind and gives them control across mobile phones, tablets, the TV, any device which accesses the internet.”
Rose is a Fit Busy Mum of 3 fit kids. She aims to empower mums who are time poor. She acknowledges that mums are ‘busy’ but tries to inspire them to regain their fitness through simple everyday habits that she promotes through her book ‘The Fit Busy Mum: Seven habits for success’.