As your child transitions from primary to secondary school, it’s a time of newfound independence that many parents worry about. This time often includes a child being given their first mobile phone – a tool for connectivity but also a gateway to potential digital dangers. As parents, how do we ensure their online safety in an ever-evolving digital world?
Big School Worries
Year 7 can be a time of change for many children. Friendship groups can change; children can start mixing with children from other schools. For some, it’s a completely different environment from one they’ve left behind. Having their own mobile phone is another milestone on their path to growing up. It can be a worrying time for parents when they hand over that little device. The job of a parent is to protect and nurture and yet, here we are, handing over a device that can expose our children to a whole new world of dangers…
Online bullying…. Grooming… Unsupervised communication…
A Parent’s Fear
You should understand that your concerns are valid and shared by parents worldwide. The digital world is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it offers access to limitless information and cross-cultural connections. On the other, it houses hidden pitfalls, especially for young, impressionable minds. It’s impossible, and impractical, to monitor every new app or platform, or to completely restrict internet access.
To protect your child, a balanced approach is essential, one that combines education, open dialogue, and the use of digital safeguards.
Building Digital Resilience
And not just for you – or for them. This needs to be a collaborative dynamic, whereby a family agreement is decided. Children respond better to rules if they’ve helped to make them. Allowing a child more autonomy in this way empowers the child and ensures that they are in a way responsible for their actions.
By equipping your child with basic online principles, you’re laying the foundation for appropriate digital behaviour.
- The implications of sharing personal data
- App permissions and data sharing
- Identifying reliable and unreliable online sources
- Understanding and setting privacy controls
- Handling peer pressure
- Recognising grooming tactics
- The permanence of online information
Maintaining Your Child’s Safety Online
Parents can feel stuck. After all, with each new app or platform that’s launched, it brings a whole world of ways that our children can be abused or exposed to information that we’ve spent the first decade protecting them from. As a parent, you know just how cruel our world can be. But, I’m here to tell you that, despite the plethora of apps and communication platforms out there, the same principles of safety apply.
Each and every time.
What Can I Do to Ensure Digital Safeguarding?
Open communication and regular discussions can allow the sharing of information. It fosters a relationship of trust rather than surveillance. Children are a lot more savvy around online apps and staying in touch with their friends. These relationships can become integrated into their lives, building confidence and allowing friendships to bloom that span thousands of miles. These friendships are very important to them.
Ensuring that appropriate parental controls are utilised & can provide an added layer of security such as restricting access to inappropriate content.
But if your child sees this content, would they tell you about it? In some cases, the answer is no because they’re worried about having their device taken from them.
This is where my Mobile Savvy sessions can come in useful.
Staying Mobile Savvy with Your Child
Mobile Savvy sessions are part of my Web Wise Workshops. These sessions are specifically tailored for parents who have concerns about their children owning a mobile phone, a common occurrence during the transition to ‘big school’.
Having an external expert participate in discussions with you and your child can greatly assist in navigating sensitive conversations. The aim is to guide your family towards a mutual agreement that respects everyone’s viewpoints and needs.
These sessions are designed to be supportive, fostering collaboration with your child to formulate a family agreement on phone usage. The workshop will cover fundamental principles, giving you the confidence to monitor your child’s mobile activities effectively.
Most importantly, these sessions emphasise maintaining open lines of communication at all times and therefore ensuring your child feels comfortable discussing their online experiences with you.
Embrace the Digital Age Safely
It is entirely possible to navigate the tricky waters of the digital age with your child. By adopting a proactive and balanced approach, you can ensure your child enjoys the benefits of mobile technology while steering clear of potential dangers. The internet is not inherently harmful; how it’s used is what makes the difference.
As your child’s guide in this digital journey, you hold the compass that can direct them towards a safe and enriching online experience.
Discover more on the Mobile Savvy sessions, click HERE