Safer Internet Day will be celebrated in Ireland and 65 countries around the world on the 7th February 2012.
This year in Ireland parents are being called on to “Get Webwise ! Get Involved!”. As parents, it is vital to have good, open communication with your child about their internet lives. Like all other aspects of their lives, we need to talk to our children about the potential dangers that they may come across online as well as the many benefits they will find.
UPC has co-developed two internet safety resources for parents, Family e-Safety Toolkit and Play and Learn: Being Online. These colourful publications aim not to take the mystery out of children’s use of the Internet but importantly they have activities and games that parents and children can do together to develop open and relaxed communication channels around their online lives. You can download these resources here.
Safer Internet Day 2012 Parenting Workshops
Technology offers new exciting opportunities for all of society but especially children. Email, instant messaging, texting, and Facebook are allowing Irish children to connect with each other and engage with society in new and extraordinary ways. The information revolution, which includes computing, the internet and mobile devices, has brought so many sweeping changes that its impact could surpass even the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg in the 15th century. This is especially true of this generation of children who are the first to grow up with access to such powerful technologies.
We are also seeing how the anonymous, instant, and far reaching communication powers of the Internet have brought a new dimension to child protection issues such as bullying, anorexia, suicide, and sexual exploitation. Parents and schools have responsibilities to work together to make sure that children are protected from the risks of using the internet without restricting their opportunities t o capitalise from the obvious recreational and educational benefits.
Children in Ireland are significantly more likely to be online at home than anywhere else. Parents need to foster an attitude of responsible internet practice and to reinforce the ideal of ethical and responsible behaviour in their children. This is easy to say but not always easy to do. Parents can find themselves enthused by the fantastic opportunities technology provides for children, and at the same time worried about what they might see online and who they communicate with.
The public debate about children and the internet tends to focus on the negative elements. It can at times even become hysterical and scare mongering. In this context of uncertainty and sometimes fear that many of us make the decisions about how we will moderate our children’s use of the internet. It is not surprising that we tend to err on the side of safety when it comes to moderating our children’s online lives.
We can’t deny that there are online risks for children and young people but we have to be balanced and proportionate in our thinking about how to enable our kids to be safe online. The more we are mindful of the positive opportunities the internet provides and the more we are able to teach them to be responsible users, the more we enable them to have fun and learn. If we allow fear to dominate and restrict our children’s online activity, the more they will find ways to circumvent these blocks and, in the long term, be even more vulnerable.
Often parents feel at a disadvantage when they are talking to their children about the internet as they can feel that their children may know more than they do. This can be an ideal opportunity to get your child to talk about what they do on the internet and show you around the sites that they visit whilst on the computer.
What do you think about children and Internet use? What are your fears and concerns? We invite your feedback below