In a time when social distancing is key to addressing the evolving public health issue of COVID-19, the internet allows children to learn, connect and create. However, going online is not risk-free. This month, we conclude our three-part series on keeping children safe online.
According to eSafety research, approximately 15% of children and 24% of teens admitted to behaving in a negative way with a peer online. When we consider children’s developing capacity to manage big emotions and impulses, as well as their growing interpersonal skills, this makes sense. Children need your guidance to develop respectful social behaviour both online and offline.
Online communication can be difficult to navigate due to the often-faceless nature of it. It’s important to speak to your children about how this disconnection can make it feel like online actions and words are not as hurtful. However, we know that the adverse consequences on the mental health of someone being bullied online is not just equivalent to being bullied in person, but in some cases can be worse.
We must encourage children to behave online just as they would in the real world. Drawing up a Family Technology Agreement is a great way to talk about the values that you share as a family. These agreements outline your expectations around the use of internet-enabled devices. Agreements can cover the amount of time spent online, the way your child is expected to behave online, and what your child will do if they feel worried or upset about something they see online.
Navigating the online world successfully requires a certain level of maturity, discernment, knowledge, and skill; it is not simply about reaching a certain age. Therefore parents must play a proactive role in supporting their children’s online behaviour from the first turn using the iPad to their first personal mobile phone, and beyond.
For more information, visit the eSafety Commissioner’s website on https://www.esafety.gov.au/parents.
Article Written + Submitted by
Monica Purcell | Family Facilitator