Cyber security is a topic that affects us all in the modern society and we need to be mindful of how we prepare our young children for the technology rich world they are growing up with. Whilst the wonderful world of technology is a treasure trove of information and entertainment we do need to be aware that an open book to the world brings good and potential bad influences into our lives. Our children are privileged to be growing up with all the benefits technology has given us. Let them immerse themselves into the modern era with your guidance and counsel. Like all learning, the best base is put down early on, so even if you have young children, the time to start cyber security messages with your children is NOW!
The pressure on children and adults to ensure safety for everyone on the internet is a big task and we would like to thank Kayelene from WA Child Safety Services for her expert council and advice.WA Child Safety Services (WACSS) is Western Australia’s specialist provider of child safety education and training. They work with children, young people, parents, educators and other professionals to create safer communities. They believe that protecting children from harm is a shared responsibility for the family, the community and professionals. Empowering children, adults and organisations creates safer communities. For more information on WA Child Safety Services go to https://wachildsafetyservices.comand follow their facebook page for day-to-day updates and advice.
What can you do?
Three hugely protective factors are your supervision, education and conversation.There are simply not enough resources in the world to keep our children safe. Would you want your child to have one on one care and protection? Then you need to arm yourself to be that protector for them.
Keeping devices in open common areas of your home, listening and watching what your children are exposed to is a massive factor in protecting our children.
Education about what is out there and what is appropriate. Keep your self up to date with the newest technology.
Conversation is key. Keeping those lines of communication open so children know they can come to you when they need to.
What is technology replacing or displacing?
Keep in mind the use of technology with what is replacing or displacing from another endeavor. Balance is so important. Children need time outside running around and they also need time inside on technology with all the benefits available for our modern children.
Bedrooms should be technology free
All devices are so addictive for children they are tempted to play with them all the time. Think of it this way. Would you be able to resist the temptation of your favourite wine/chocolate/cheese if it was next to your bed? Another very important factor is that each device has a camera. Do you want your children’s bedroom open for the world to see? Their bedrooms are private areas and need to be safe.
Eyes, body and brain
Think of the effects on your eyes, body and brain. This means looking after your eyes especially when being on a device at night. Use the nightshift mode, which changes the back light from blue to yellow so as not to affect your bodies melatonin levels. Also be mindful of the distance you are focusing on. Proximity to the eyes to the screen can affect your vision. What sort of images and ideas are you exposing your brain to? What are the effects of screen time on your posture, especially during those growth years.
20, 20, 20 Rule
A good way to remember to take breaks is the rule of twenty minutes of screen time, look up for twenty seconds, over a distance of 20 feet (6 meters)
Self-regulation is the ultimate goal
Aim for self-regulation and not to rely on an adult policing time. The aim is not to catch children out, we need to teach them to mange their time and make good choices, just like any other activity. Be careful when setting time limits as things like games and you tube do not follow your times set. Rather aim for a number of episodes, once you have checked their length. Similar to when you read bedtime stories to your children when they were little.
Try not to use technology devices as punishment
These days these devices are a window onto the world of learning and fun. It is especially important that children won’t be scared to tell you if they have inadvertently come across inappropriate content and that you won’t take their device away. Tell your children these things do happen and give them strategies to deal with it when and if they do come across something inappropriate. In the similar way you would help them if they are playing with any toy that has proved challenging or inappropriate. By taking away a device as punishment it also elevates that device’s importance in that child’s world. We need to be mindful that these devices are part of our children’s world, not the only thing in the child’s world. Devices are highly addictive and it can be easy to dive into the device world and find it very hard to put down and ‘get off the grid’ for a while.
Start cyber safety early
Try to delay your children’s reliance on devices. Make your decisions right for your family. It is easier to delay rather that take away devices once your children are used to them. Whilst you are in the phase of life where children enjoy you reading stories, enjoy that teachable moment to being in books that speak of cyber security. This is a great way for children to grow up with good messages as part of their daily lives, similar to how our children are growing up knowing the importance of wearing sunscreen every day.
Posting content on social media
Know that the very best software filter is between your child’s ears. Teach them how to think critically about what they see and do. When posting content on social media distinguish between public versus private images and content. We are teaching our children that the areas covered by their bathers are private, they really should not be posting these private area’s on any form of media. This messages stays consistent with what we taught them when they were younger. A great question to ask is: Would you want your parents/ principal/police or public to see it. Once it is online it can never be rescinded. For older children ask: Would you want parents/principal/public/police/future partner/potential partner/pedophile to see it? Picture it up on the screens at Optus stadium. Once children get to the age of posting on social media they need to be aware of what’s illegal and what’s against the law.
Parental control technology
You can install parental controls on devices, apps and search engines. A good filter is ‘family zone’ which controls devices through the cloud, so this protection travels with your child’s device and will keep working while they are out. A word of caution though, don’t rely on these controls, Nothing is iron clad.
Have a plan
Have a plan for how to deal with seeing illegal, offensive or inappropriate content. Teach your children what to do. Speak with them about what hey could do. Come and tell someone, turn it off or walk away, as you would discuss with them what to do if they get lost in a public space.
Getting the right advice
The Office of the Safety Commissioneris a great site that has help and advice for teachers and parents. You can look up specific advice for apps and all other media. This is a great tool when your little ones come to you with a ‘can I have the latest app’ question. Most social media apps have an official age limit of 13 years old. This can help you to justify your decisions that are right for your family.
Kids College Philosophy
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