One of the concerns we hear most frequently from parents at our parent seminars in primary and secondary schools, relates to how challenging it can be to keep up with what children are doing when they are online. This concern is totally understandable as parents lead increasingly busy and demanding lives. It can undoubtedly be a juggling act to keep on top of routine daily tasks in addition to keeping a watchful and informed eye on what your child is doing when they are using technology. So, how can you stay connected to what your child is doing online? Here are our Tips to help!
Communication is key: Regularly talk with your child about what they are doing when they are online. It is important to be open in this communication. In other words, listen actively to what your child is telling you and reassure them that they can confide in you, safe in the knowledge that there will not be negative consequences for their honesty. While there can of course be a tendency to panic if you hear something that concerns you about what your child is experiencing online, it is important to stay calm and offer reassurance and practical advice and support to your child in relation to staying safe.
Offer age appropriate advice: At Zeeko one of the first things we talk to primary school children about is using the Stop Block Tell Rule if they encounter something online that upsets them. Obviously this is appropriate for that age group. When communicating with teenagers, the message while similar in nature, obviously needs to be more age appropriate. Speaking with parents with children of a similar age is one good way to share experiences and learn from each other about how they deal with online safety issues with their teens.
Spend some time online: Sometimes the best way to learn about something is through experience. If you want to help your child to stay safe, spend some time online, researching some apps like Instagram and SnapChat or how to upload content to sites like YouTube. By exploring these apps yourself you will be in a stronger position when talking to your child about them. Remember not to become overwhelmed, no parent can know everything and with the amount of apps now available it would be impossible to keep up to date with all of them!
Keep it ‘Real’: Digital Parenting is a phrase that is becoming more and more common. In reality digital parenting is really no different to parenting. It is important to remember that if your child has a good grounding in making smart choices in many areas of their lives, then the choices they make in relation to staying safe online will be similar.
Encourage time spent offline: Remind your child of the importance of face to face contact with their friends and of course their family. The recent WHO Report in relation to rising rates of childhood obesity linked to technology use, makes us all reflect on our use of technology and its impact on our health. Encourage your child to actively engage in non sedentary activities. Time spent away from screens is undoubtedly important and can sometimes lead to your child opening up about what they are experiencing when they are online.
Staying connected to what your child is doing online, does not always have to involve technology! In essence staying linked in to your child’s digital world involves open communication and creating a sensible balance.