Keeping your kids cyber-safe

The internet is full of cyber-safety tips for parents to keep their children safe. Most of them are useful but here are what I believe to be the most important ones.

1. The best protection comes from your relationship with your child

Being in a close, friendly relationship puts you in the ideal position to monitor and protect your child.

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2. The best internet filters are the ones in your child’s head

Software and gadgets can make it harder for your children to get into mischief, but self-control and character are the best filters. How do your children get them? See point one.

3. Understand about immature impulse control

Yes, you are close to your child. Yes, your child has great character and good values – but they are still a child, and any child can trip up, especially with a bit of peer pressure and hormones added to the mix. Hope for the best, but stay vigilant, and even check for a bit sneakiness.

4. Maintain your authority

If they are so young the law won’t let them drive and the bank won’t give them a loan, it means they are still too young to have unrestricted, unsupervised access to technology. “I hope you have a lot of fun on-line, but I want you to be safe and responsible, so there have got to be a few rules.”

5. Figure out what the real problem is

If the problem is bullying, or sexting, or porn, or whatever – the problem is not with the phone or the app or the internet. Text bullying is about bullying, sexting is about sex. You need to put on your parent-hat, not just your cyber-tech-hat.

6. Work deals and contracts

Negotiate agreements with them about technology use. How long? Who pays? What is acceptable and what is not? The real value is not the signed bit of paper you end up with – the real benefit is the discussion you have getting there.

7. Lead by example

Ouch. That is always the toughest bit of being parent. Research indicates that the number of hours children stare at screens is remarkably similar to their parents. As we demonstrate our own good cyber habits, we have a better chance of seeing them in our children. By the way, they have checked your browser history.

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