Children now have access to technology in school as part of their curriculum, not something which I had when at school but in this day and age it is rather essential that they learn from an early age.
My children are of course around technology perhaps earlier than I may have liked but they see me with my computer for work, my smart phone and my tablet and they are allowed to use these for a limited period under my supervision, I am actually toying with the idea of getting this tablet for them to share for Christmas.
As they get older they will want their own and will be using in school no doubt, both under the supervision of their teachers in their classes and in the playground as they are much older.
Because technology usage for children is starting earlier and earlier it is important that they are taught how to use them and how to protect themselves while online properly.
It should be our responsibility as parents to know they are aware of a few basis rules to help keep them safe.
Here are a few rules we should make them aware of:
- They are not to give out their phone number to anyone – they can let their close school friends have it but not people they have just met, people they don’t know or someone who has started chatting to them in a chat room
- Phones aren’t toys – they need to know that some calls cost money, so not to call those or have a list of numbers they are allowed to call. Many contracts come with free calls to landlines or mobiles but not all. Teach them about mobile data – perhaps turn it off so they aren’t running up huge bills which they then can’t pay. They can connect up to the home Wi-Fi or friends/family when indoors but they don’t have to be connected to the internet all of the time, also make them aware that sending pictures cost money too so to perhaps wait until they are home and using the Wi-Fi to send via WhatsApp
- Teach them internet safety – The sites they are allowed to look up and make them aware that some searches may provide search results they aren’t expecting.
- Know the rules on social media – make sure they know not to accept friend requests from people they don’t know, and not give people they don’t know their home address etc. Not to hand over passwords or personal data.
- Know that not everyone is who they seem in chat rooms/forums. That sending rude pictures isn’t allowed. Make them aware about screenshots and that when they think messages can’t be seen by others that actually they could be – make sure they know not to do anything they aren’t comfortable with and to know they must always tell you should they receive messages from others which are mean/hurtful/unwelcome or from people they don’t know – never to hide these messages or be worried you will be cross
- Ensure they have a passcode on their phones (one you know but not their friends) – the last thing they want are their friends fraping them on Facebook, or sending messages pretending to be them.
As parents we have a responsibility to ensure we are up-to-date with the latest social media apps our kids could be using and to look over cyber articles such as those from AO which could alert us to and security issues which we should be aware of, such as the maps on snapchat which show people your exact location unless you have gone in and turned these off. We also should make sure they have anti-virus software installed and it is regularly run – just as we would with our own devices.
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