As the summer holidays start in earnest, now is a great time to have a conversation with your child about ways that they can continue to stay safe online. Remind your child that staying safe online doesn’t stop just because it is the summer. In fact, it can be even more important to make smart choices and be conscious of how you are treating others online during a time in the year that is more relaxed. We have put together our Top Tips for staying safe online over holidays. These tips are influenced by what we are hearing from pupils, parents and teachers when we visit schools throughout Ireland to deliver our internet safety workshops.
Screentime: Remind your child of the importance of having a balance when it comes to the amount of time that they are spending online. At Zeeko we have pioneered the 5:1 Rule when it comes to screentime. This essentially means that for every hour that is spent on screens this should be balanced with 5 hours of ‘real world’ activities, preferably activities that involve physical activities. Also, it’s important that your child, switches off any screen at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light omitted by screens can affect the levels of melatonin in the brain which can affect things like concentration the following day. The temptation is always there, particularly during the holidays, to spend an increased amount of time on screens. Creating a balance is key!
The Stop Block Tell Rule: It can be genuinely distressing for young children in particular to encounter something age inappropriate or witness others being treated badly when they are online. Talk to your child about the importance of using the Stop, Block, Tell Rule if they do encounter something that upsets them. Stop what they are doing, block the person and/or conversation that has upset them, and finally tell a trusted adult what they have experienced. Talking about what has upset them will definitely make it less frightening. Let your child know that it is ok for them to talk about what they are experiencing when they are online. Having regular open conversations as a family about the internet is a great foundation for your child to learn that the digital world can be a great experience, but that they need to remember to stay safe.
Online Etiquette: Often the excitement of messaging, gaming, video and photo sharing can lead to children of a range of ages, not being as cautious as they would usually be when they are offline. Talk with your child about the importance of treating people the same when they are online as they would when they are not. Also remind them of the T-Shirt Rule, which is a great way of reinforcing the fact that what is shared online cannot be easily deleted or removed – don’t post anything that you wouldn’t be happy to wear on the front of a t-shirt! This certainly makes children and adults think twice about what they post online.
These tips are a practical way of helping your child to stay safe. As we regularly say at Zeeko, the internet is a fantastic resource but children do need support and guidance to learn how to safely navigate the online world, regardless of the time of year!