Safer Internet Day takes place this week, and it aims to raise awareness of both a safer and a better internet, where everyone is empowered to use technology not just safely but also responsibly, respectfully, critically, and creatively.
The campaign aims to reach out to children and young people, parents and carers, teachers, educators, and social workers, as well as industry, decision makers and politicians, to encourage everyone to play their part in creating a better internet. This will allow each and every user to make the most of all the opportunities new technologies have to offer, regardless of their age, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender, while also steering clear of risks and challenges.
Better Internet for Kids (BIK) and the Insafe network of Safer Internet Centres (SICs) have developed a significant amount of resources for adults interacting with children, both at home and at school, with the aim of enabling them to make informed decisions regarding their children’s (or pupils) use of digital devices, and to organise fun and educational activities to teach them how to best use the web.
One of the main concerns of adults regarding children’s use of online devices is the risks of overuse and the consequences associated with that, such as speech delays in toddlers, poor quality of sleep, and higher incidences of depression (especially for teenagers, who use social media more consistently). However, there is an ongoing debate about whether using digital devices is as bad as it is made out to be, and new research suggests that it is not so much the length, but the quality of the screen time that matters.
In any case, having an open discussion with children about their screen time is essential. You can find more information on how to deal with screen time for young children here and for teenagers here.
Device overuse is one concern particularly associated with gaming; the issues are addressed in this resource from the Norwegian SIC called “Do you talk with your children about video games?”
Teach your child good cyber hygiene habits
Just like the real world, it is adults’ responsibility to pave the way and teach young users the do’s and don’ts of the online world. Reckless online behavior exposes children and young people to an array of risks that make the headlines far too often. But risks should never discourage anyone from benefiting from the digital revolution!
That is why teaching children the basic principles of cyber hygiene is an essential step to guarantee a positive online experience for them. Cyber hygiene consists of “the practices and precautions users take with the aim of keeping sensitive data organized, safe, and secure from theft and outside attacks.”
Prepared by the Safer Internet Day organization.