Being online is a natural state nowadays. It’s part of our daily tasks like reading, watching something or communicating with others.
Having our smartphones and tablets always nearby and ready to use, it’s easy to get on the internet within seconds.
However, we’re not given a manual on how to use the internet safely. We don’t have to get a license before we enter the world wide web. And in the case of children, how are they supposed to know what’s right and wrong on the web? This is particularly more if adults aren’t even sure.
Why E-safety Matters?
Safety is the key in many situations in life and it is just as well in the online world. Nearly 34% of 12 to 15-year olds have encountered “hate speech” on the web in 2017. Similarly, they have witnessed other identical online fraud or pedophile cases. Consequently, and certainly, it is about time to prepare young children how to protect themselves on the internet. E-safety basically covers everything related to safety online, on the web or on the internet. This includes the safe and responsible use of modern technology with an internet connection. So, it is relevant for the users of computers, smartphones, tablets and any other technological device offering access to the worldwide web.
In schools, all teaching staff is trained on e-safety with many schools using digital devices daily while teaching. But in the homes of children, we might not find an awareness of e-safety. Most parents or carers know how to use the internet and digital devices. Still, they may not be familiar with what to look out for their child’s safety. They are unaware of how to be in control of their child’s online access and use. So, we have gathered some e-safety expert recommendations for parents on how to go about that.
7 Top Ways to Be in Control of Online Safety
- Don’t allow your child to set up an account on social media. This is particularly more if they’re younger than the legal age limit of 13 years. Moreover, there’s an extra layer of caution that, for LinkedIn, this limit is of 14 years, and WhatsApp, it’s 16.
- Check your child’s online activity regularly, especially if their account is in your name or registered via your phone contact. It may also happen that your child has an account but isn’t 18 years old yet. You’re legally accountable for EVERYTHING your child does.
- Create a rule book or schedule for your child’s online use at home and outside to make the boundaries clear.
- Limit the daily screen time. If your child doesn’t stick to it, you’ll have to remove the device or lock it. Use the OUR PACT app to switch off apps on your child’s phone at scheduled times.
- Make sure you always have access to your child when on the computer, smartphone or tablet. For example, when they’re not locked in their room.
- Be consistent and clear about these rules and what consequences can arise. You can get the CIRCLE APP by Disney. This app allows you to manage all devices in your home by setting time limits for apps.
- Another useful app to help you manage e-safety at home is GALLERY GUARDIAN. If you are contracted to your child’s phone it sends an alert of inappropriate images
Learning Digital Skills is Vital for E-safety
It is crucial to understand that e-safety cannot be learned without exposure to the web. Empowering your child to learn how to manage their online behaviors, profiles and communications safely and responsibly first-hand is only possible through learning by doing. Under adult supervision, they could create and run a basic blog to improve their digital skills to become an educated digital citizen.
The necessary digital skills like “going places safely” or “sending email” can only be learned by actually using them in action. They include skills highlighted in the Digital Literacy Curriculum by the SWGfL as shown in this overview below for the younger children in Reception or Primary School.
The Digital Literacy Curriculum
Here you can get all the interlinked aspects of being safe online, such as data protection, an online code of conduct, online regulations, copyright and so forth. By actually learning within the real world wide web they can understand these rules in context and adults can model positive online behaviors to them when on the internet together.
Through the appropriate use of social media together with your child, they can learn how to find concrete and contextual information online as social media contains some important links that can divert the student to informational websites. Social media is the cool Wikipedia for students these days.
Social media also helps parents stay in touch and up to date with their child’s life. Even if they’re apart, with the help of video calls and photo sharing, the parents can observe what their kid is up to and can communicate with them regularly.
So, banning phones or other digital devices from children’s lives will not create an e-safety awareness and shouldn’t be the goal. Instead, enable your child to learn online safety actively, but check on them using the top 7 ways to stay in control as recommended by the UK Education Blog experts.
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