CLAREMONT COLLEGE

Is Your Home Safe?

Is Your Home Safe?

When thinking back to my childhood, I can recall my parents and teachers teaching me about the importance of 'stranger danger' when I was walking home from school. These days children also need need to be also taught how to keep themselves safe from strangers when using technology within their home. Using technology can be such a wonderful experience, but sadly there is a risk that our children may get caught up in difficult, troubling and perhaps even frightening situations that can may have an enormous impact on their future mental wellbeing.

So how do we keep our kids as safe as possible? The following checklist of useful tips and advice may help you... 

Set Expectations
Talk to your child about the types of behaviours required when using technology. For example, how long they should spend online, what apps are safe to use and what is appropriate content to view. This will be different depending upon the age of your child, and what you feel comfortable with. For example, at Claremont, we do not condone the use of ‘Fortnite Battle Royale’, as it portrays behaviours associated with violence, is a platform for potential cyber-bullying and promotes obsessive behaviours. You may have noticed significant media coverage recently about concerns with such games. Technological options like parental controls can help, but it needs to be teamed with online safety education, and being aware of the impact certain games may have on your child’s behaviour and safety.

Understanding What Your Child Does Online
Talk to your child about the function of the internet. Why are they using it? Who is in their network? What information do they share? Are they using the internet to learn, to communicate and create friendships with others, to create music or videos? Really listen to what they have to say – what might seem like ‘just a game’ to you, could in fact be a way for them to connect with people who have similar interests. Keep in mind that while connecting with friends online is a good thing, there is always an inherent risk of harm. Monitor and talk to your child about their ‘friends’.

Showing an interest in the things they do helps build your understanding of what their online world looks like to them and creates a relationship that makes it easier to have more difficult conversations in the future.

If you Don’t Understand it, Try it
As parents, you need to understand the technology your child uses to better understand the challenges that they may face online. Explore the websites and apps your child uses to improve your online knowledge, and take the time to read terms and conditions. You could even ask your child to show you how it works, as a way to start conversation around online safety.

Set a Good Example
How often do you use your laptop or smartphone at the dinner table? Keep meal-times for family conversations and make this time one that is device free. Reflect on your own use of social media. How many ‘angry’ posts have you published? Take a look at the way you use technology while your child is around. If you notice something that doesn’t sit right with you – change it.

Teach them the Basics
Once your knowledge of the types of websites and apps your child uses is up to scratch, teach them the basics of online safety – here’s four ideas to start with: 

1. Strong passwords

A strong password helps protect the information on your online profiles or accounts. Teach your child how to choose strong passwords, by reading how to choose a good password.

2. Information to protect online. Have a conversation about the importance of not sharing personal information online such as:
Login details and passwords;
Bank account details;
Home address;
Phone numbers;
Birthdate; or
Personal information that could be used to guess security questions for online accounts.

You should also talk about personal details your child may be asked to share online, such as location and the school they attend. Some apps allow you to share your current location with friends, or publicly.

3. Not everything is as it seems
It can seem like common sense to adults, but sometimes kids do not understand that people are not always who they say they are online. Talk to them about friending or communicating with people they don’t know offline. They should never friend someone online that they don’t know personally offline.

4. Digital footprint
Teach your child that they need to think about what they post online, and that what they post online leaves a ‘digital footprint’ about them.

Whilst many of these things may seem like issues that teenagers may deal with, don’t underestimate how young children may be faced with these challenges. 

Social Media
Do you know how old children should be before they get social media accounts? The minimum sign up age for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube is 13. Be mindful that the majority of cyberbullying incidents happen though such social media sites. I have been informed by teachers that some students here at Claremont have their own accounts, and they are not set to ‘private’ or ‘friends only’. Please be familiar with the safety centres that most social media organisations have for staying safe online. Start with how to block people, how to report content and how to use the privacy settings. We encourage parents to hold off social media until your child starts high school.

Online Bullying
Teach your child what to do if they were to be targeted online, so they have the tools to deal with it if it happens. Ask them what advice they would give a friend who was experiencing online bullying. What are the various choices they have? This is a good way to understand how they would deal with these kinds of situations if they were to experience it themselves.

Make sure you also talk to your child about how you expect them to behave towards others online.

Let them know if that if it’s not acceptable offline, it’s not acceptable online. Ask your child to think about the person on the ‘other side’ of the screen. Lead by example – think about how you’re behaving towards others online. 

What if Something Does Happen?
Let your child know the options that are available to them – tell them they need to talk to a trusted adult. Identify who these trusted adults might be (not just you). If they come to you, count to ten before you react. When children ask for help from adults, it is important to understand this was a big decision. If you overreact, then you’re less likely to be the first port of call next time something happens. Focus on problem solving and giving your child skills for next time. 

For more helpful information, go to www.esafety.gov.au

Larissa Cameron
Deputy Principal