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What can we do to protect our children in the digital age? Share your ideas to win £100 Boden voucher and more

(51 Posts)
EmilyMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 16-Jul-15 09:33:47

It's a question that every parent struggles with - how much freedom do I give my child on the world wide web, and at what age? As one tech CEO put it - today's teenagers are either online, or asleep. But can too much freedom to browse end up causing damage to vulnerable teens?

Fiona Neill's new book, The Good Girl, explores the dangers of social media - how the internet can make teenagers vulnerable, how one mistake can destroy a family forever - look out for our book giveaway of The Good Girl next week.

So what can we do to ensure kids are properly protected in the digital age? Share your ideas and thoughts on this thread and you could win a signed copy of the book and a £100 Boden voucher. There's also three copies of the book for runners-up.

Share your ideas before Monday 17th August for a chance to win. This competition is sponsored by Penguin Random House.

This competition is now closed. Winners will be contacted shortly

Ausflug Thu 16-Jul-15 09:55:22

I think you just have to start talking about the dangers with them early on, keep as open a relationship as you can so they know they can come to you for advice.
I know they will probably face all sorts of pressure/silliness etc at school. All you can do is provide facts, give your own view of what behaviour is sensible, talk openly about issues they might face, be supportive and hope they will be sensible - and come to you if they make a mistake. Just like you would with things like alcohol.

You can't control them, you just have to hope they have enough information and good sense to make sensible choices.

I don't like the idea of monitoring a teenager's email/Facebook, or checking up on what they have searched - appropriate for a younger child of course, but a teenager needs to feel you trust them, and to have some privacy.

I don't have a teenager though, so maybe I will feel differently when I do.

Reastie Thu 16-Jul-15 18:46:31

Education I suppose is key here, like so many issues. There's no easy way to legislate the Internet and there is so much out there at their finger tips. When I think about it I'm so glad I'm not a teenager now. Growing up with the added complexity of the Internet and issues that brings (cyber bullying, availability of pornogaphic images etc) just adds extra anxiety to an already difficult time.

GetHappy Fri 17-Jul-15 16:57:46

I think the best way is to be open with them, be willing to talk the children and show real life examples. i think we, as parents, are responsible for the teaching of this.

I don't think being ignorant to it is the answer. Children all like to rebel at some point in their lives and it's usually against stuff that have been hidden from them.

I also believe that lessons like this should be in the national curriculum. The world and technology is forever changing and we as society need to change with it to a certain degree. Have real life victims of this come round and give talks.

574ejones Mon 20-Jul-15 07:20:36

We are continually teaching our children how to manage risk whether this is in simply crossing a road or keeping safe online. As parents we need to be be sure that even from a young age, that we protect our children by ensuring that we have proper parental controls in place on the devices they are using. But essentially, I have found that chatting to my children (now teens) without lecturing them really seems to work.

I do worry about my children having a digital footprint which could potentially be around forever and this having an impact on their adult lives.

Schools and colleges do teach the importance of Internet safety too and this generally encompasses cyber-bullying and also where to go for help if there is an issue.

NerrSnerr Mon 20-Jul-15 07:31:00

Parents need to educate themselves on what social media platforms their children are using. Also need to understand parental controls and how the devices work

I think the most important thing is communication between parent and child.

TheyGotTheMustardOut Mon 20-Jul-15 17:23:39

I think communication and education are key. It's so important to listen to your children and create an atmosphere where they know they can share anything with you. It's also important to stay informed about what is going on and to talk to your children about stories in the media.

CopperPan Mon 20-Jul-15 17:30:57

I monitor my teen's email and social media, with their permission. I'm very careful about online security and have set ground rules about sharing information online. I don't lecture them, just share information as and when it comes up (there are enough worrying stories regularly appearing in the press to serve as a warning). But my concern is often more about identity theft or viruses as that would be a bigger risk for my dc.

Pixi2 Mon 20-Jul-15 19:20:29

Communication is key, and I think that it could eventually lead to a change in the way we parent. Mine are so very different, the eldest loves playing online so we've had talks about talking to people and not even saying his name online from the age of two. The youngest has just turned four and isn't interested at all in being online (or even watching tv) so the chat will be later than I would have liked. In this house, the DC being online means dropping chores and sitting with them, sometimes benignly, being there in case they need help, sometimes actively pointing out 'this penguin is saying hello, it's ok to say hello back if you want but nothing else, then why don't we go and play that game over there'. Talk, laugh, build up trust whilst they are young. Ds often asks if a pop up comes on as he's had viruses on his tablets which have made them unable to even turn on. It's not all about peadophiles, it's also trolls, viruses and identity theft.

missorinoco Mon 20-Jul-15 19:42:05

I think we have to learn what is out there, not just what we use but what they will use too. Look at our privacy settings so not to expose them to inappropriate information too early.

Also, I think we need to engage in talking with them about the internet, about how someone might not be who they say they are, and why they shouldn't give out personal information etc. Drip feeding it.

shrunkenhead Mon 20-Jul-15 20:22:57

I think we have to keep them away from it as long as possible. Four year old don't need tablets and X boxes etc etc. Let kids be kids. If you have a family computer/laptop then ensure this is always used in a family room and not a bedroom.
Don't let them have mobiles until absolutely necessary eg when they are at secondary school and have to catch a bus daily.
Have the highest parental settings you can on all devices they have access to. Discourage social media. It's becoming increasingly cool-er to shun it in favour of real world friends and communication and long may this trend continue.
Teach them they are an individual and it doesn't matter if Fred has the latest X Y or Z, it doesn't make him cool, just a sheep, and they are better than that. They don't need Call of Duty etc etc.
Hard though it is, explain there are some bad people out there masquerading as good people. And above all ensure they feel they can talk to you about anything so if they do see/hear anything upsetting that they can come to you.

flamingtoaster Mon 20-Jul-15 20:23:32

When children are young internet access should be confined to time when a parent is with them - even if parental controls are set at the highest level. While children are slightly older it is easy to confine use of the internet to downstairs rooms where parents are around. From a young age children should be taught that things - and people - are often not what they seem on the internet. Internet safety should just be another aspect of helping children to keep safe that we talk about - and remind them about - at intervals. Smartphones produce other problems - both in terms of freedom of access to the internet and their portability. If there is no data package then turning off the wifi connection at night will prevent late night chatting etc and ensure adequate sleep (and keeping internet surfing to family rooms. Relaxing restrictions for older teenagers needs to be done in tandem with more detailled discussion about problems and dangers which can arise.

123letthewookiewin Mon 20-Jul-15 20:40:26

I think while they are young any access should be supervised, and as they getting older its all about being honest and upfront and educating them on the good and bad stuff. Kids are savvy and as they get older they are more aware of if they are being lied to, as a parent you need to respect that they are going to get more curious, but stay involved and let them know they can talk to you openly about things. Although, I think access should not be 247, even as they do get older, having an understanding of the technology should also include the realisation that its something to be enjoyed as an addition to everyday life - not the be all and end all, so boundaries will be set - around meals times being for family communication, and bedtime being sleeptime not up all night chatting, texting etc.

MrsFitzherbertsGoat Mon 20-Jul-15 20:52:19

Let them use the Internet when they are younger - don't have a no screens policy. Make it normal and something you share with them, not some brave new world they encounter later and go too far.

Dolallytats Mon 20-Jul-15 21:00:34

Keep internet access in a family room until they are able to understand that things may not be what they seem on a screen.

Teach them that things (pictures or words) are not easy, if not impossible to take back when on the world wide web.

Also parents must educate themselves as much as possible.

hutchy73 Mon 20-Jul-15 22:00:48

Limit how much time they spend on tablets .

Listen to what they are watching and encourage them to use in lounge not shut away in their rooms

Tillyscoutsmum Mon 20-Jul-15 22:02:24

Get into the thinkuknow.co.uk website and share the age appropriate videos with your dc's to ensure they know the various online dangers they may encounter. Kidsmart.org.uk is another good one for younger dc's.

nocutsnobuttsnococonuts Mon 20-Jul-15 22:07:42

its so scary how much the Internet and social media is in our lives.

I think there needs to be education for parents and children possibly through the schools about the risks of over sharing and how what goes online is always going to be there.

how can a parent fully protect and educate their child if they aren't completely aware of the risks and dangers themselves.

IWasThere4Aug12 Mon 20-Jul-15 23:07:22

This is a difficult one Our plan is to keep internet usage in family rooms as long as possible and talk to DCs about potential issues as they arise in the news Feeling very nervous that it won't be long before DS1 knows more about tech than I do

Givemecoffeeplease Tue 21-Jul-15 07:08:05

I think adults need to be aware of the risks too - how many of us have one password for everything, how many remain logged in to Facebook on a shared computer, how often do we upgrade our security settings. Risk of fraud is dangerous too - it's not just about dodgy chat rooms and trolling. That said, having open communication about the latter is important. Education and communication!!

timeforabrewnow Tue 21-Jul-15 07:27:10

We have a parental control box that automatically blocks out certain types of sites and games. Hopefully we don't rely on this too much but also keep an eye on what they're doing. I worry more about the content of the internet (particularly on you tube) and what my 10 year old may accidently come across.

With my older children I have spelt it out several times how anything you write on the internet is kept there pretty much forever, and to be extremely careful what you write.I don't feel particularly worried that they will be groomed or taken advantage of by a stranger (may be I should be worried??) as they are sensible teenagers.

HeadDreamer Tue 21-Jul-15 07:44:50

DD1 is only 4 so it's easy currently. She only has the tablet when she's in the living room or our bedroom. Her profile has no YouTube kind of thing. It has Netflix and Amazon prime and children games only. Both Netflix and Amazon prime video is locked down to children content only.

I agree it will be trickier when they are teens. It's the social media and the content in there that can't be controlled. I agree education is key but I'm not sure how much a teen will listen to her parents.

ButterflyOfFreedom Tue 21-Jul-15 08:32:45

Limit screen time as much as possible, especially when they are really young and Internet access isn't a 'necessity'

Encourage them to use the Internet in rooms where other people (family members) are so it is not something they do in private / behind closed doors

Parents need to know which social network sites are out there / what they do / how they are accessed etc. Parents need to be savvy and try to stay one step ahead of the game

Talk to children about the benefits & dangers /pros & cons of the internet; be honest from the start. Listen to any issues they may have & encourage them to talk to you about what they use the Internet for.

Look into parental controls / passwords / blocking certain sites etc.

Use the Internet together, share experiences

Orangeisthenewbanana Tue 21-Jul-15 09:09:10

This already worries me a lot for the future and DD is only 2.5. We already strictly limit any screen time she has (TV) and if we play games on the tablet, we do it with her. As she gets older I think it will be a case of lots and lots of education about staying safe online, repeated ad infinitum. Strict parental controls on devices and an agreement that we get access (initially at least) to social media accounts they may have. Also, no taking devices up to bed!

I think the key is to start early so that by the time they are stroppy teens they should have got the message!

lucyanntrevelyan Tue 21-Jul-15 12:53:28

Allowing internet access while they are younger so they learn to be internet savvy while you still have some influence over where they look. Talk and talk and talk about the issues - we have had discussions over the information on Wikipedia and if that is the best place to go for homework research.
I don't know how to protect them really, while there is lots I can do at home like having the computer in a family room, monitoring youtube videos they watch etc, there is nothing I can do when they visit friends or are out and about with friends. We already have the problem of friends playing 18 rated games while DC visit, and most children seem to have smart phones. I have to assume lots of those smart phones have no restrictions set up. Other than keeping communication open so they can ask about things they have seen, I can't keep them safe from other people's judgement of what is appropriate for my child.

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