Today, February 9th, 2021 marks what is now the annual Safer Internet Day. It is a European wide event that highlights the importance of staying safe online and creating an online community where people work collaboratively to build a safer online world. The theme for the Day is Together for a Better Internet.
Through our work in Zeeko we are lucky enough to see first-hand the positive impact that having children, their parents and their school together when it comes to staying safe online. Education and communication really are the key elements to helping your child to feel empowered when they are online. Starting conversations about the importance of online safety as early as possible is a good idea.
A major part of our work is letting children know that good digital citizenship starts with them! The internet and digital technologies are undoubtedly a fantastic resource, but those using them need to be aware of their personal safety and be careful of what they share. Making smart choices when they are online is a key to staying safe. The increasing use of apps like Instagram and Snapchat is revolutionising how young people communicate and certainly contributes to increased creativity. However, it can also lead to too much information being shared and an increase in cyberbullying. Teaching children to respect others has always been a very important element of parenting, it is now an integral and essential part of what is termed ‘digital parenting’. Helping your child to understand the importance of exercising the same amount of caution when they are online as they do when they are offline is a very important step in helping them to manage in the digital world. Having regular conversations with your child about the importance of being conscious of the feelings of others when they are sharing content online is also a key step. This can be particularly challenging when it comes to teens. Try to communicate often and make sure that your teen knows that they can talk to you about their online activities. Encourage them to be conscious of others in any messaging that they may be engaging in, via for example a WhatsApp group. Encourage them to find ways to connect that don’t always involve technology or being online. Having a balance in the use of technology is very important for all the family but particularly for children and teens. The development of face to face communication is a lifelong skill and shouldn’t be neglected. At Zeeko we are continuing to work with primary and second level schools to spread the word about the absolute importance of a collaborative approach to helping children and teens to stay safe online. They say it takes a village to raise a child and when it comes to online safety it certainly does!