I class myself as pretty internet aware, I work online and as a previous teacher I take safe guarding seriously. I have sat through child protection training and know what signs to be looking for. As a parent I also take my children’s physical safety seriously. Having two children of secondary school age I have negotiated some of the bumps of growing up, like the time Dyl managed to spend money online without permission, and the time I lost my son for a few hours in the local area.
The internet is an amazing tool but we do need to educate our young people on how to use it in a safe way. Unfortunately in my teaching career I know of teenagers that have been groomed or made mistakes with their social media accounts that had negative impacts on their lives. However knowing how and when to have that conversation can be tricky. Many of us assume that our children don’t need these lessons until they are using social media sites like Facebook, snapchat or instagram but research shows that the conversations need to start much younger. Many of our children are using YouTube or online games that have a chat function and therefore they need to be educated on how to stay safe online. It made me realise that I need to start the conversation with my six year old now. She has an iPad and is very competent at using it but does hop about especially on YouTube, there are restrictions in place and you can even limit the amount of time a child can be online through products like Home Halo and as parents we need to educate ourselves too.
Therefore when we were invited to attend the 300th workshop on internet safety being held at the BT Tower in association with Unicef and BT I knew that it would benefit both Erin and myself. Therefore we travelled to London to learn more about how to have that safety conversation. I am very aware that Erin is still a young child and I didn’t want to worry her about the internet, I don’t want to take away her innocence and enjoyment but I want her safe. Like I talk to her about stranger danger in the street or teach her the green cross code I know that internet saftey is part of the same skill set needed in today’s modern society. BT have put together an online quiz to see just how aware you are which you can try here. The session was informative and totally at the right level that Erin understood most of what was said.
After the session we were thrilled to be invited to the top of the tower which is one of the tallest buildings in London. The Tower is not open to the public and we were very lucky to be up there for lunch. The top rotates which the children loved and the views were something else!
Please do have a conversation with your children as the programme aims to empower children to become confident digital citizens – enabling them to safely enjoy the benefits of the internet, in an online world that continues to rapidly evolve.
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