Today’s parents are very aware that protection that keeps our children physically safe is no longer enough to keep them safe from harm.
The digital world is a realm that we all now engage with, at school as well as at home, and we have become citizens of this world in what we do in everyday life.
This world changes so fast that we as parents cannot keep up with the newest apps, websites, games, YouTube clips and whatever else is made available to anyone who is interested. Schools can put systems in place, parents can have parental controls, and age restrictions can be placed on sites, but supervision and knowing what our children are doing will always be the best protection we can give them.
To train up our children to be cautious, cybersafety aware and selective what they view is most important. It is important to teach our children that just because a friend or acquaintance urges them to go to a website, which they have never looked at or heard of before, that is not enough reason to go there without first making sure it is safe or appropriate for them to view. Unfortunately we cannot ‘un-see’ something once we have seen it. Some of the sites our children venture into are not only unsafe but filled with horror that can cause anxiety and fear to young viewers, as I discovered recently in conversation with a concerned parent. In speaking to students in Years 4, 5 and 6 discussing gaming habits and the dangers of not adhering to age restrictions suggested for digital media I was surprised to hear from some that they feel their parents do not have a problem with them watching such movies or playing such games. This, I hope, was not the truth but just said for effect. I did, however, tell the students that I would give information to all our parents about access to a resource called ‘commonsense media’ (see below), that rates games and movies for the right reasons. It provides good information on the ratings of movies and games to help parents make informed decisions of what will be suitable for their children to watch by themselves, to watch with their parents present or to avoid watching altogether. It even discusses ‘Tik tok’ often used by kids – please read the important information about this social network.
To help our children become discerning cybercitizens is part of helping them to become responsible and safe citizens in the 21st Century.