After completing a survey by My Voucher Codes about Social Media, Technology and the impact it has on our children, it has got me thinking about the dangers that there are online. As my children are seven and three years old, I am able to monitor what they are doing on their tablets and on the computer.
Steps I take to make sure the children are safe online
- The computer is in the living room so that the screen faces the whole room. It is quite a big screen so I can see what they are looking at in a glance.
- I have the parental controls set on H’s Hudl. I really like these as I feel in control of what she has access to.
- S’s tablet is linked to his Dad’s email account so that if he tries to purchase any content that is not suitable, even if it a free game, his Dad knows immediately. This has happened once before, when S first got his device. His Dad messaged me at 11pm to say that S had downloaded a game unsuitable for him so I went straight to S (actually before he had had time to play on it) and discovered that he’d sneaked his tablet to play on in bed. Cheeky monkey! We had a long discussion on this and nothing like that has happened since.
- S has some regular, fantastic talks at his school about e-safety. I am informed of when these are so we discuss them further when he comes home. He also watches Newsround at school, which has some great advice.
- Any YouTube videos they want to watch, I view them first to ensure they are suitable. I still haven’t figured out the parental controls on here so I was pleased to hear that YouTube for Children has been set up recently.
What parents are most concerned about
The results of the survey concluded that parents are most worried about online bullying (58% were extremely worried), accessing adult content (49% were extremely worried) and sharing inappropriate images (49% were extremely worried). Other concerns included grooming, access to extremism, addiction to social media, effects on education, privacy and the effect on long term health.
I must say that I am quite worried about my children accessing adult content, as it is so easy to stumble across such material when you are looking on search engines or on YouTube, for example. For now, I am not concerned about online bullying as my children do not connect with others on social media due to them being so young. It is a worry I have for the future though, when they do start having social media accounts. But then again, bullying in general, online and in the offline world, is a concern I think that most parents have.
How to combat these worries about technology
The survey found that parents were active in trying to protect their children on these new, evolving online threats. Some parents use their routers to block access to inappropriate adult content. Others felt able to trust their children to report any instances of online bullying or grooming with them.
I think that the most important thing to do is to talk to children about the dangers they could face online and how to deal with them if something does happen. Like with anything, I think openness and transparency, even on tricky issues, is the way forward. We are here to teach our children how to deal with problems when they arise and how to keep themselves safe in a world full of all sorts of dangers.
I am glad that I took part in this survey. It has brought the issues about technology, social media and how our children could be affected by online threats, into the spotlight. I think that all parents need to be aware of the aspects of e-safety and actively keep an open dialogue with their children.
Do you worry about the dangers of technology and social media, in relation to your children? What do you do to keep your children safe online?