As a parent of a primary school-aged child, I have recently started to worry more and more about how much he is accessing the online world and how safe it is for kids today. When I was Jake’s age, computers were not commonly seen in homes, I didn’t use one regularly and the internet hadn’t even been born! Fast-forward to now and almost every home in the UK will have internet access which can be done at a click of a button on a phone, a tablet, a laptop, a computer and even on the TV. We live in a world where being online is valuable for work and education, it is fun, it is sociable and relaxing but there are also many factors that we need to take into consideration in order to stay safe. As adults, we are very aware of the dangers that can lurk behind these screens but children? Well, they don’t have the experience, they cannot fully understand how some people can manipulate you online or try to access your details and they also don’t have the capacity to limit their own screentime. It is down to us to guide them and to teach them how to use it safely and sensibly but how do you do this in a clear, simple, educational but fun way? This is where ESET comes in. With their Safer Kids Online website and free tools, you can help your child/children to understand that being online can be safe if they use it correctly.
What Is Safer Kids Online?
ESET are an internet security company that protects more than 110 million home and business internet users. They developed their Safer Kids Online website by working closely with Internet Matters, a not-for-profit organisation that “works collaboratively across industry, government and with schools to reach UK families with tools, tips and resources to help children benefit from connected technology smartly and safely”. Their website is jam-packed with tips, advice, articles, parent guides, educational videos, free downloads and more.
“Our mission is to build a safer online environment for children, by educating them, their parents and teachers about child cybersecurity and, as a consequence, raising awareness about the importance of the topic in society”
Safer Kids Online
My Personal Concerns
I’m sure that you we all have very similar concerns in regards to internet safety for our children:
- Giving out personal information
- Chatting to strangers online
- Accidentally clicking on inappropriate adverts
- Signing up for something that pops up
- Accessing games that aren’t suitable
- Posting publicly rather than to friends only
- Watching doctored YouTube videos like the Peppa Pig ones that were doing the rounds
Did you know that 1/3 of people on the internet are children?
That 34% of students have been victims of cyber-bullying?
And that 40% of children in Europe have tried to find friends online?
So, if you have or had concerns, your feelings are completely justified.
At the moment, for me personally, my biggest worry is who Jake is playing online games with. He is 6 (almost 7) and in the last year has become quite taken with gaming. It’s not something I’ve ever been into so this is all new territory for me as is the fact that you can now “meetup” and play the games with strangers. I can’t watch him constantly, I can’t see who is also in the game plus I struggle to understand how a lot of it works which automatically puts me at a disadvantage when it comes to protecting him. I need to know that I can leave him to play a video game safely and that he has all of the relevant knowledge to ensure that he can make that happen which is why I needed to try out Safer Kids Online just as much as he did!
Using Safer Kids Online
The Safer Kids Online website is easy to navigate, it provides a section just for adults and another for kids and has all the information I need laid out in terms and language that I (as a non-techy talking person) can understand.
Using The Parents Section
The parents section has articles on important topics such as malware, passwords, webcam dangers, screen time, gaming and so on. They provide a breakdown on what things mean, how to protect yourself, what to look out for and how to help your child. There are also 2 handy downloadable guides, vlogs and common Q and A’s.
Using The Kids Zone
The kids zone has been really well thought out and includes fun, short and snappy animated videos that deliver the message without overloading their brains. For example, the oversharing on social media video is just over 2 minutes long and in that time your child is shown that it’s ok to not show every aspect of their life and to avoid sharing their address, phone number, location, a parent’s credit card, car license plate numbers and that followers are not friends that you know.
We watched a selection of the videos together and Jake being only 6 found them easy to watch, he understood the messages plus he then elaborated a little more on some topics due to the work that school has done with them too which opened up a line of conversation I hadn’t ever had with him before.
Safer Kids Online Workbook
The website has a free downloadable resource called the Safer Kids Online Workbook which has been created due to their partnership with AFC Bournemouth’s successful Community Sports Trust programme. By joining forces their aim is to help educate and protect children online and they aren’t just doing this virtually, to local schools with a squad player and cybersecurity expert talking to the children about internet safety.
The workbook is a great tool to be able to sit down with your children to work through at home and the activities include recognising logos, taking into consideration what type of information should be shared, a word search, a section to create your own ‘be smart online’ poster and tips on how to keep yourself safe online.
The Safer Kids Online website has proved to be so useful to us as a family and it has given me the free tools I need to help Jake to stay safe whilst using the internet which I’ll then be able to pass onto William (3) as he grows up and begins to explore the same areas. The fact that everything is free and accessible is perfect because it means that every family can take full advantage of this information and the fact that it is written in terms that we can all understand also makes it far more appealing. I think we have all recently been made to feel as though the internet isn’t a good place for our children to be and that screentime is a bad thing, but if we all encouraged and taught our children how to be safe and alert it can continue to be an activity that is enjoyable for them and worry-free for you.
*This is a paid collaboration with Mumsnet and ESET Safer Kids Online. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.
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