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6 online safety tips for kids on Safer Internet Day

Tech and Innovation

Posted on February 5, 2013

3 min read

Today is Safer Internet Day (SID). Nine years ago it became a landmark event in the European online safety calendar. Today, Safer Internet Day is now recognized in 99 countries worldwide.

In 2004, SID focused on ‘Children’s Rights to a Safer Internet’, highlighting the need for quality online safety information together with education and training for everyone.

Nine years later, Safer Internet Day’s theme of ‘Online Rights and Responsibilities’ offers a different meaning to the word ‘Rights’. Today, a safer internet is one that is underpinned by an idea of ‘digital citizenship’, reflecting our growing understanding that online safety is more than just the use of security software and passwords but involves the actual ethics of being online and respect for others. Ideally, digital citizens think critically, behave safely and participate responsibly.

So, to coincide with Safer Internet Day, here are six top tips for kids online:

  • Be involved – Talk to your kids and find out what they do in their digital lives. Try out your kids’ favourite apps and websites
  • Model good behaviour – Set a positive example for your kids by turning off your devices and practicing safe and responsible behaviour
  • Set time limits – Establish clear rules about the amount of time kids can spend on their devices each day
  • Encourage a balance – Support your kids offline activities
  • Play respectfully – Don’t say mean things. If you wouldn’t do it offline, don’t do it online!
  • Watch your steps – Remind kids that what you do online today can be used against you tomorrow. So keep it private or don’t do it… a digital footprint has consequences.

SID 2013 provides all of us with an opportunity to focus on what safe use of the internet is and, more importantly, what it isn’t, as well as the rights and responsibilities of all users of the web.

Children and young people have both the right and the responsibility to feel and be safe in online and offline spaces. Adults play a significant role in guiding kids to be aware of what safe and respectful behaviour is.

Adults often use words that help them understand the role that social media and networking are playing in the lives of their children and students. However, we’ve been guilty of using messages that don’t always resonate with young people. For too long we have spoken ‘to’ or ‘at’ children and young people rather than ‘with’ them about what it means to ‘grow up digital’. The most successful approaches to digital citizenship in schools engage young people as equal partners in the development and implementation of education programs.

Online safety is not about keeping children and young people under control, nor paralysing them or their families with fear.

Instead, let’s support young people with skills that can assist them to develop the resilience they need to be full participants in their digital worlds.

Image: Safer Internet Day