Creating Healthy Online Experiences for Children

 

We are spending an increasing amount of our time at home behind a screen, particularly since COVID-19. Internet usage has surged by up to 70 percent worldwide. It’s not only the workforce, but education that requires some time online. No one is exempt, from parents to teenagers through to younger primary school children, everyone relies on the internet each day. It is therefore paramount that we help children to create healthy and positive online experiences from a young age. 

Online Behaviours vs. Technology Debate

Realistically, children learn how to access their parents’ phones by the time they learn to walk. The digital world has many benefits and if you have young children, ideally, you will educate them early and make yourself aware of how they spend their time online.

Andrew Fuller, leading psychologist who specialises in the wellbeing of children, suggests that cyber safety is more about relationships and how we behave online, as opposed to the technology itself.

Adults know that what makes it to the online world, stays there and children sometimes need a friendly reminder about this fact. Teach them not to post photos of themselves or others that could have negative implications now or in the future. Encourage them to do their homework before playing computer games; a good routine promotes good habits. In addition, explain to them the dangers of forming relationships online with people that they don’t personally know, for example, friends of friends.

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Accepting Devices and Internet Usage

Devices are now the norm and without a doubt, well-received by children of all ages. Accepting the need for devices has required a major mind shift for some parents who understandably worry about the safety of their children whilst online. Nonetheless, realising the importance of online interactions is vital to ensuring that children remain transparent with parents when it comes to how they spend their time online.

Rest assured that children are educated at school about safety on the internet. After all, devices are required from the early primary school years and beyond.


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Setting Clear Expectations

Children can often believe that when they have a computer that they can use it at any time and for anything they like. Forming good habits begins at a young age and it is recommended that boundaries are set and that regular breaks are scheduled for non-screen time.

A technology use agreement is common for computer use at school and if your child has a mobile phone, we like this agreement that can be signed by the parent and child. It’s a sound way to encourage safe behaviour. Setting an agreement ensures that your child treats computer and online privileges seriously and is aware that boundaries exist.

Particularly during recent times, maintaining friendships is important for children but parents need to maintain some level of control so that a balance is achieved. The aim is not to ban technology, and instead to plan for it and keep the communication lines open with your child.

 

Cyber Issues to be Aware Of

Cyber issues definitely exist, so being prepared will put you one step ahead. Every parent should be made aware of issues that can occur online, such as cyberbullying, gaming risks, unwanted and inappropriate images and messages, so that children can be informed that these things do exist and how they are best to handle them.

Reading up about how these issues can be presented and how to navigate them will help you to determine what to raise with your child and answer any questions they may have. This is a good way to begin an open communication policy at home so that online safety remains a priority for all.

Cyberbullying, for example, is a well-known issue and can take the form of cruel or bullying messages that are sent by friends, former friends or by an anonymous person. This resource outlines the various types of signs to look out for when cyberbullying becomes an issue.

 

Getting involved with what your child is doing online is a smart way to ensure that online behaviour and activity is appropriate and safe. The internet is a never-ending source of content and educating children how to decipher the good content from the bad content is key. The happy medium is knowing that your child is consuming the right types of content online. Camp Australia has recently introduced Holiday Club Online for fun and social virtual experiences during the school holidays for families choosing to holiday at home this Winter. To find out more visit https://www.campaustralia.com.au/holiday-club-online.

 


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