Digital technology has become a part of everybody’s day to day life and whether you love it or not, it is here to stay. Children in particular are accessing the internet earlier and earlier and while it can be a fantastic resource for communication and learning, it is important that as their carers, we know how to keep them safe.
We believe the key to online safety for children is communication and openness. They may know more than you think! These are just some of the ways to start the conversation with your family about online safety.
Ask them what they like to do on the internet and what their favourite sites are. Spend some time on those sites yourself so you can understand what they’re all about and any potential hazards they might come across. Ask everybody if they know how to stay safe when they are online and even if they have any tips they have learned that they can give to the rest of the family. You’ll find in particular that children love to be able to teach you things you don’t know! Are there any online activities you all could enjoy together?
Every family has their own rules about a number of things and the internet and technology usage should be no different. Decide on what your family’s technology rules and boundaries are and make sure everybody knows them. Rules should apply to everybody and make sure you are showing them you have healthy technology habits too. If you don’t know what your rules are, think about what times your family are allowed to use devices and for how long.
Also think about sharing a rule around what happens if anybody is concerned about something they have seen online or if they have received any communication that makes them uncomfortable. Make sure they know exactly who to tell and have a conversation around what is appropriate content and what is not.
When it comes to looked after children in particular, digital safety is especially important and it can be difficult to judge the balance between allowing them to be like any other child whilst keeping them safe and within the confines of your duty as a foster carer. When you are ready to welcome a Rotherham looked after child into your home, make sure you have familiarised yourself with Rotherham’s policies and guidance on internet safety. If it is something you are nervous about, feel free to have an open discussion with your social worker about it before the placement starts and ask any questions you may have about that child in particular. Will they have their own device? Have they had any issues with online safety or behaviour in the past?
Talk openly with the whole family about how everyone likes to spend time online. Set clear rules and boundaries and encourage young people to speak up if they encounter anything they are unsure of.
Get familiar with the websites your family members like to use and spend time engaging in online activities together as a group.
Always supervise children when they are using the internet. Use Parental Controls to restrict or monitor access.
If you are unsure of anything or would like to learn more about how you can use parental control tools to keep a close eye on your family’s online safety, ChildNet has lots of information and helpful guides.
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