SID2014blog

February 11th 2014 is Safer Internet Day – no you don’t get a day off work for this, nor do the kids get the day off school.   However, as we all seem to spend more and more time online in this Digital Age we live in, this is a day organised by the UK Safer Internet Centre to focus on what children and young people are doing online and how we, as parents, can promote safe and responsible use of the internet.  The UK Safer Internet Centre has been launched in collaboration by Childnet International, the Internet Watch Foundation and the South West Grid for Learning and is co-funded by the European commission’s Safer Internet Programme in order to provide resources, tips and advice designed to help children and young people stay safe as they use the internet.

Safe Internet Day (SID) 2014 will see activities all over the UK, many of which will be organised by schools and youth groups.  SID TV will be streaming live on the day with advice and information for parents and carers, professionals who work with young people and the children themselves.

The Safer Internet Centre’s website is jam packed with free resources, including easy to use advice on how to start conversations with kids of all ages on staying safe online.  For schools and teachers there are free downloadable Resource Packs (all age appropriate for either primary or secondary schools) which contain lesson plans, posters, assembly scripts and classroom activities, all of which are designed to promote conversations on how to stay safe online.  For schools and youth groups in Wales, there are Welsh language versions of these resources available so that you can speak to the kids in the language which they understand best.

For many parents who may feel that their children are way ahead of them when it comes to technology, there are video guides on how to set up the parental controls offered by internet providers.  The Parents’ Guide to Technology provides advice about gaming devices, smartphones, tablets and other internet connected devices.  There is also a guide for parents on how to support their children in staying safe online.

The internet is here to stay, it’s changed our lives in so many ways and is forecast to carry on doing so.  This means that our children need to use the internet in order to participate fully in the future so it’s up to us parents to make sure they’re safe while learning to use the internet effectively.  Here are a few tips that will help to ensure that your kids are adequately supervised while exploring online.

  • Locate the computer that the children use in a busy part of the house where you can check what they’re looking at on a regular basis.  This doesn’t mean that you need to be hanging over their shoulder as they browse – just make sure you walk past frequently and scan the screen as you go by.
  • Make sure that your kids are not spending too much time online.  You need to find a balance so that they still have plenty of time for other, offline activities.
  • Speak to the kids and come up with a family internet agreement which should include the amount of time spent online per day, which online games they are allowed to play and the websites they are allowed to visit and their behaviour towards others when interacting online.

Education is the name of the game when it comes to online safety – for both parents and children.  We’ve all heard tales of two year olds that have bought luxury cars on eBay – that makes a great story.  However, we’ve all also heard tragic stories of cyber-bullying that have ruined people’s lives.  The more we know about what our kids are up to online the more effectively we can make sure that they stay safe whilst surfing.

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