Whatever age your child, they probably spend some of their time on a device connected to the Internet. As parents we need to be aware of what they are doing and with whom.
In our house, being connected to the internet is a huge thing. Me and my partner couldn’t live without it. We socialise on it. We can do our work from it. Get our entertainment by watching TV and playing games. Do our shopping on it. Get our news from it. We also use it to get advice about all kinds of things like medical issues, parenting problems etc. It has become such a vital importance in our lives that we would struggle to live without it. And if it is that vital for us, then why would the same not be true for our children, people who were born into a world where the internet features so heavily already?
It’s inevitable that our children want to go online, to play, to watch, to socialise, to do their homework etc. It is something that we as parents will struggle to get away from, and if other children are in that environment then is it fair for us to keep ours out of it? That’s a personal choice for you as parents, in our house we limit it but have given up the battle of keeping away from it all together. It has created a much more harmonious home!
Parenting still continues online
But if you do allow your children to go online, then your parenting should still continue in the same manner it would if they were out playing with friends. Just because they may be sat in the living room, you still need to know where they are, who they are with and what they are doing, in the same way you would if they go somewhere with their friends. But many parents struggle as to how to do this for various reasons such as secretive children or not having an understanding of the Internet or the apps that their children are using.
However this is not a reason to close your eyes and risk your children getting into dangerous situations. It is a reason to educate yourself about what you need to be doing, what you need to look out for, how to protect them better and so on. And you don’t have to do that alone, as there is lots of help and advice out there specifically for parents, and hopefully this article will help you by showing you where to look.
New guides for parents
The South West Grid for Learning has produced guides for the Welsh Government especially for families to help with this exact issue.
This guide looks at appropriate gaming and the challenges of age ratings on apps and games. It discusses why the age ratings are there and has lots of links to sources that explain the ratings, parents and children reviewing the apps and games, find out what games your children are playing and how to talk to them.
There are over a billion videos on YouTube with hundreds of thousands more being added each day, and Google searches all kinds of content from all over the world. A lot of this content is not appropriate for children and young people. So how do you avoid exposing your children to this when it comes to two of the biggest platforms – it’d be nigh on impossible to avoid Google and YouTube if you allow your children internet access. Find out in this guide what you can do to protect them with filtering and safety settings.
There are lots more guides and resources for parents on the Hwb Online Safety Zone. Take a look at them here.
Childnet International have developed ‘Online Gaming: An Introduction To Parents And Carers‘. It gives parents guidance on how and where children play online, and the risks they may face. The guide also introduces the SMART rules, as well as where to report any concerns.
FamilyPoint Internet safety articles
Here at FamilyPoint we’ve also had quite a few articles discussing different internet safety subjects. Take a look through our past articles:
- Creating a Safer Internet For Your Child
- Keeping Children Safe On Social Media
- Product Placement, Online Adverts & Your Child
- Keeping The Kids Safe Online On Their New Gadgets
- Sexting: What Are The Risks For Young People
- Cyberbullying & Online Safety
- 10 Facts About Cyberbullying
It’s good to talk
If your child or young person is struggling to talk to you about any issues affecting them, then pass on the details of the Meic helpline. This is a confidential helpline for those aged up to 25 in Wales. There are trained advisors they can talk to who can help them deal with tricky situations. They can offer information, advice and advocacy support. The helpline is open 8am to midnight, 7 days a week.
As a parent, if you need to talk through any worries you have then you can contact the FamilyPoint helpline. Our advisors can help you to find organisations that can help. The helpline is open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday.