One of the most dangerous things a parent can do

Think about your children and who you want them to become and how you want them to grow. Think about the most important responsibilities you must help develop in their lives.

Keep thinking…wait a while before you read the next line.

Was “keeping my child safe in the cyber world, and them becoming a considerate cyber citizen”, something you thought about? I think it is one of the most essential elements of contemporary parenting. It is very important that you take this responsibility extremely personally.

Every school that is a part of Swan Christian Education Association (SCEA), is set up with Wi-Fi to ensure students and staff can connect to the internet for their learning and teaching. Within the association, we have over a dozen people whose sole responsibility is to monitor and screen what students and staff are searching on the internet. Safety measures and programs are put in place to ensure this process is thorough and done well. They are highly trained experts in their field who work hard and take their responsibilities seriously. Added to that, at every age, we have educational and pastoral care programs designed to keep children capable, aware, and safe.

All it takes to bypass and ignore all the hard work and safety measures put in place by the experts is to have one kid with data on their mobile phone and a parent who was unaware.

The internet is a place for powerful learning and provides good relational opportunities; however, the internet is also a dangerous doorway to dark places. It can severely damage people and cause tremendous hurt and emotional torment or addictions.

Here are a few definitions and risks to be aware of:

  • DATA: a device’s independent ability to connect to the internet. This is what you pay for when setting up a plan. Pre-paid plans are a great way to limit how much data your child can access. When it is gone, it is gone.
  • WIFI: organised internet connection from homes, businesses, and schools. At home and school, it can and should be carefully filtered. Two ways:
    • Apple screen time – free service built into IOS so you can access real-time reports about how much time your child spends on their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. You can set limits for what you want to manage, however, please note that these alerts can easily be dismissed without passwords.
    • Family Zone – a paid app that allows/provides internet filtering both in your home and via an app on your child’s phone or device when they leave home.
  • Social Media: web-based apps that allow people to communicate in words, videos, and images. Anyone in the world can use them: Tik Tok, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and whatever is new that I am not up with. Let me repeat, anyone in the world can use them.

Allow me to ask you a few disturbing questions:

  • Why does your child have a phone with data? (I cannot think of any reason for a primary aged child or for that matter, immature secondary students…it is such a risk).
  • How is what they access with data, known and filtered by you?
  • Who are their friends on social media, and how are they relating to each other? What is their most recent conversation about?
  • What games do they play, and who do they connect with while gaming?
  • When your child uses a device away from school: Who are they with?  What are they doing? What are they viewing? How do you know?

If your child said, “Can I have $100, I’m catching a taxi/Uber with friends to Northbridge on Friday night and don’t know when I’ll be home?” How would you react? What about, “I need a phone with DATA, everyone has one! Please.” Trust me, you are not the ONLY parent who does not allow something and you are not the only parent who says no. Be the empowered parent. We are here to partner with you to educate your child and empower them to be responsible cyber citizens in this contemporary world.

I know this is a complex topic and I know I have asked some complex questions. Be assured, we will be providing more information and support to parents on this.

Rod McNeill