I recently had the pleasure of talking to leading cyber safety expert, Robyn Rishani from Your Kids Online, about internet use and I asked her specifically about how parents can engage with their kids in respect of the internet. The internet, is after all, where a lot of kids spend a good proportion of their day, and so rather than skirt around the subject, I was keen to understand what parents can be doing to ensure they keen up with this thoroughly modern world.
Photo courtesy of Your Kids Online
Robyn had a number of tips that parents can undertake to know more about their kids interaction with the internet, and from this knowledge be able to greater protect them from online dangers.
1. Ask your child to show you how to use their phone. This has two benefits, in that firstly, you might learn a bit more about how to operate phones but also it also engages them in a conversation where you'll find out what they actually know. Kids are more likely to talk to you as a parent about their online world if you show some interest and ask for their help
2. Talk to your child about something you saw on the internet and ask them what they think. Choose something real and keep it topical, e.g I received a nasty email today about xxxx…what do you think I should do? What would you do if it happened to you? This simple conversation is based on role play and will help you arm your children with the appropriate type of recourse should certain things happen to them in the online world.
3. Ask your child/teen: “How does Ask.fm work, can you show me?” Open dialog and the opportunity for your kid to engage in conversation with you. If you show general interest, they'll be more eager to demonstrate to you what they know.
4. Ask your kids to help you open a Facebook / Instagram (or other social media) account. Ask for their help with things like the security settings. This helps you discover what they do and don’t know about online safety and will open up a discussion to explore the importance of privacy whilst working together. If they don't know much about security, and you don't either, get online and get the facts, or ask an expert. If you're kids are activity online, you need to be knowledgeable about what they are potentially exposed to.
5. Once a day, either at dinner time or family time, ask your teen what new thing they discovered on the internet today. If they say “nothing” then ask them if they’d like to browse Youtube with you or look at news stories, or perhaps you could help them do some research for their homework. Robyn advises that it may sound tedious, but engaging in their online world is important to their sense of family, safety and trust.
Robyn Rishani, creater of the Cyber Safety portal Your Kids Online and educator to kids (and their parents) all over Australia is running parent seminars currently in Perth. To find out more details about a seminar near you soon click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.