Online Safety Expert, Tony Anscombe from AVG Technologies gives us some advice when it comes to letting your child lose with technology!
The internet’s importance is impossible to ignore. Every aspect of our daily lives has in some part been touched by online technology and our need to stay ‘connected’ at all times is ever growing. Whether we are shopping, socialising or staying in touch with friends and family, most of us now use the internet in some way every single waking hour.
While for many of us the internet has proven an unruly beast that we have grown to know and love, for the majority of today’s children, manoeuvring the online world is merely business as usual. Whether at home, or in school, the internet has become a fixed feature of their daily activities.
As Christmas approaches, and with mobile devices and tablets top of many lists this year, are we really doing all we can to safeguard our youngsters against the must-have gadgets of 2013? With a third (33%) of parents planning on buying their child a mobile device this year, a recent report by AVG Technologies, revealed that 64% of parents with children under seven admit to letting them spend time on the internet while they are not in the room.
As our world becomes progressively digital and online safety becomes increasingly important for parents and children alike, the generational divide becomes ever more palpable. As our kids start to recognise their wants and write their wish lists (especially at Christmas), it’s all too easy to give in to their requests. Our research found that parents feel under pressure to buy their children the latest technology, with 40% of us admitting to feeling this way as a result of ‘pester pressure’ from both our children (68%) and their friends (52%).
But it’s not all bad – while these stats are all true, many of us are starting to take more responsibility when it comes to the devices we give our children. We are now actively seeking guidance in the purchase stage and getting involved in the initial device setup which is extremely important.
As parents we need to take a more active role when it comes to our children’s device usage at home and remember that the job does not end once the device is unwrapped. To steal from an old adage, a device is for life, not just Christmas and it is of vital importance that we take ongoing responsibility for making sure our children are using their devices in the safest way possible. With the right framework in place, families should be able to enjoy technology together and encourage children to learn, play and feel free to be themselves when using these connected devices.
One step ahead
It’s tough enough to manage children’s internet usage, but by making sure you take into account a few, simple best practices you can make sure they enjoy the internet safely and securely, leaving you to enjoy the post-Christmas peace… well, at least for five minutes!
- Research devices before you buy them for your child. It’s always better to get to know the technology before they do – this way you’ll always know the ins and outs of their device
- Set up a restricted profile or ‘kid zone’ before handing it over. The majority of devices now come with a variety of in-built parental controls, enabling complete transparency of how they’re using their device. Setting up restricted areas or ‘kid zones’ that only they can access (and only you can amend) means you’ll know exactly what they’re doing
- Download what they download. Most antivirus software products enable you to look at and manage the apps your kids are using. Take the time to look at what they’re doing – from here you can build a safe environment for them to use
- Show an interest in their surfing. You wouldn’t let your child out all day without asking where they had been, who they had been with and what they had done so why not ask similar questions to our child when they are tucked away with a laptop or computer?
- Talk to your child about staying safe online. If you only take one thing from this article, please take this: talking about online safety with your children is essential. Address the pros and cons of owning a device and outline the responsibility they must show in order to own such an advanced ‘toy’. After all, if you openly share your knowledge and insights they’re more likely to share theirs. Make sure you know what’s going on in their world so you’re always one step ahead in protecting their privacy
If you would like more advice on how to protect your child online this Christmas you can download Tony’s book – One Parent to Another – for free.