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How do I keep my children safe online? This question has been asked multiple times by worried parents that do not know what to do. Today on the show, Josh sat down with Ruth Dearing, a Parent University subscriber and a digital safety expert based in Sydney, Australia. They talked about how to keep your children online, cyberbullying, and the importance of education with communication.
- The parental guidance that you offer your kids when they're offline should be similar to what you offer them online
- Learn social media etiquette.
- It's not about telling them what to do, it's about letting them decide what to do.
How do you encourage parents to keep their children safe online?
Digital safety is all about prevention and understanding what happens online. For instance, pornographic content is online but a lot of parents don’t realize that their kids have seen it. Parents don’t realize young kids are likely to see pornography online if they don’t have a conversation about it. It’s an awkward conversation that nobody wants to have. So a lot of it is opening up, education, and communication. Having these conversations regularly is important, don’t just have a one-off conversation. Have regular conversations about what is online with your children. Teach your children what to do if they see pornography online and how to deal with it. It comes down to a whole lot of communication. The parental guidance that you offer your kids when they’re offline should be similar to what you offer them online.
As a Parent University subscriber, what are the top 3 things you’ve learned?
- Kids need to have a goal from the start. When it comes to technology, start with the end in mind
- Understanding the consequences of what they post for their future
- Getting a social media etiquette right from the start
What's one of the biggest misconceptions parents might have?
One of the biggest misconceptions parents have is not understanding how much guidance children need and thinking that it’s better to respect their privacy. I agree that you don’t need to invade your child’s privacy. I recommend some parental control products but I only recommend the ones where you’re not spying on them. Monitoring their digital footprint is not spying on them behind their back. You don’t need to see everything they post or to be in their face. What you need to do is get a parental control software that sends you alerts so that you can have a chance to address what could be a real issue.
What are your thought about cyberbullying?
It helps to tell stories about bullying. The other thing is to help people understand what cyberbullying is because there are so many different types of behavior that constitutes as cyberbullying. A lot of people that cyberbully others, don’t realize that they’re doing it. On the other hand, some people say they’re being bullied but they’re not being bullied if it’s a one-off mean comment.
Developing empathy is a massive part of teaching students about bullying. When I ask kids if they’re online and if they have seen cyberbullying, they’ve all seen it. It’s about saying, “Well, imagine if you were that other person how would you feel?”
When do you think it's a good time to get a phone?
I don't think it is an age thing, I think it is a maturity thing. If you're ten years old, I don't understand why you need a phone unless you're traveling a long way. Ask the question why. Why do you need it?
The other thing is that parents need to lead by example. Kids are going to copy what their parents do. If they see the parent using a phone way too much, kids will think that its normal. They think that's what you do and they're gonna do that. I don't think as a parent we can't put our phones down to expect something different about kids. I don't think that's right. It's so important to lead by example.
What would you say to people about what they should be working with their kids to put online?
Don’t underestimate your kids. Kids are smart and they can see things for themselves. As a parent, it’s not about telling them what to do it’s about letting them decide what to do. Guide them in the right direction hoping that they’ll make the right choice. Teach students to ask themselves if they’re proud of their post and if they would be happy if anyone in the world saw their post.
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