Sometimes children are harassed, belittled or threatened online. Through the rise of social media, cyberbullying is now a serious issue and can range from sending abusive texts and emails, to nasty online gossip and excluding others online.
Lookout for changes in your child’s behaviour; are they more withdraw? Changes in their sleeping patterns? Wanting to avoid going to school, or on the computer? These may be signs of being cyberbullied, so it’s important to let your kids know you are there to support and listen to them and keep them connected to supportive friends and resources.
Click here for more information about cyberbullying.
Computer games are super popular for kids, especially boys. Some games are educational, however some online games depict high levels of violence or sexual content. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the games your kids are playing to determine whether they are age-appropriate, and set some time limits on how long they can be playing.
Online games also allow interaction with others – often adults. For this reason, it’s a good idea to remind kids and teens that when you’re online, you should not give out your private details like phone number or address.
Click here for more information about online gaming.
The internet can be a wonderful resource for kids, but there are always risks, especially when it comes to ‘online grooming’. Grooming is when adults are contacting children under the age of 16 for purely sexual reasons, and it’s completely illegal.
Young people may not even know they are communication with an adult – someone who appears to be a teenage girl online may actually be someone much, much older. According to CyberSmart “Strategies used to groom children and young people may include flattering them, telling children and young people they are mature, using sexualised language or mature themes, offering young people work, encouraging private chats or phone calls or face-to-face meetings and asking the young person to provide photos of themselves or to use a webcam”
Signs to look out for could be excessive late night computer use, a change in sexualised language or behaviour or secretive computer use. Make sure your kids are wary of accepting friend requests from people they do not know and are aware of the privacy settings on social media.
Click here for more information about unwanted contact.
If you’re totally stressing about your kids being on the internet after this – don’t! There are many ways that you can monitor and keep track of where your kids can and can’t explore on the web and help avoid the ‘bad stuff’.
Parental Controls are programs you can download onto your computer to help limit what your kids can do online. Note that no single Parental Control tool is 100% effective, but they help stop kids accessing certain websites or searching for certain words.
You can review Parental Control tools here.
Click here for more information about parental controls.
For additional resources; Cybersmart has a range of age appropriate online information and related links to support parents in the education of themselves and their children.