It is anti- bullying month. The theme for this year is cyber bullying and e safety. Cyber bullying is real and can cause a lot of distress. We can take measures also to be safe on the internet. Although kids these days are growing up fast, they are still very vulnerable on the internet. We cannot stop them using the internet because like it or not, we are living in the Information Age. The world rotates around the axis of the internet.
So what can we do to keep our kids safe on the internet as responsible adults?
##1 Don’t let your kids post personal information
Teach your kids to avoid posting personal information such as email addresses, home address and telephone number
##2 Use Parental Control
Use parental control to restrict access to inappropriate content. Limit their access times too and have download limits in place where possible. Set up and review what websites your kids are visiting. Ask your internet provider how to do this if you are not sure.
##3 Be aware of Social Media age limits
Be aware that even social media such as Facebook, and YouTube may have in appropriate material or even adult content. Most of these social media have age limits. Make sure your kids are accessing only age appropriate content including films and games.
##4 Encourage your kids to trust their instinct.
If something is not right, it is better to be safe than sorry. They must end any inappropriate conversation or leave a website if they feel uncomfortable about the activity.
##5 Would you allow your kids to talk to strangers on the street?
Let your kids know that just like they wouldn’t talk or share secrets with strangers on the street, the same implies on the internet. Not everyone who says they are a kid is necessarily so. Not everyone uses their real name or identity or even picture on the internet. That kid that says they are 11 years old may in fact be a 50 year old man. Do they really know everyone on their friend list? If they don’t, do they need those names as friends?
##6 What pictures and photos are they posting?
Encourage your kids to think carefully about what pictures, photos and videos particularly of themselves that they are posting. Once an image is loaded on the internet it can go viral. Images no longer are ‘yours’ once uploaded on the internet as they can be downloaded, shared, and even edited! Also some social media applications never delete content even if you disable your account. This means that once an image is posted on their site, it is on their servers ‘forever’.
##7 What are they writing?
Likewise, anything you post on the internet, can be shared, misconstrued, misrepresented and also go viral. Be careful what you post on the internet.
##8 Who are they meeting up with?
Make sure that your kids never meet up with anyone they meet online. Always encourage your kids to be open about who their friends are, whether physical friends or online friends. Encourage honesty at all times. Have frank discussions with them. Maintain open line conversation as best as possible.
##9 Restrict use of webcams
Young kids must not be encouraged to use webcams as much as possible.
## 10 Be tech savvy.
Learn what is out there on the internet. You are never too old to learn anything especially technology. Learn the lingua that kids use too. Learn the text / online lingua and abbreviations. For example, did you know the following?:
831 means ‘I love you’
9 means ‘Parents are watching’
MIRL means ‘Meet in real life’
For more, check out www.internetslang.com