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Connect With Respect – Teaching Our Children To Be Safe Online Safer Internet Day 2013

Today is the tenth anniversary Safer Internet Day and perhaps your children have been encouraged to get involved in projects at school? Did you know that the average age for first going online in Europe is seven years of age.

The UK Safer Internet Centre conducted a survey of 24,000 young people and reported 96% of the respondents aged 11-19-years of age are using some form of online communication tool.

Here in Ireland Irish a recent report by EU Kids Online identified that children are online at least once a day for an average of 61 minutes.

There are a host of events being hosted and one that I thought was particularly good has been the live Internet radio show hosted by SaferInternet.org .uk with guests from Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and many other organisations.

Recently my twin daughters, aged 11 years, were invited to participate in a private social network hosted on Make Waves. The platform provides a social learning environment for social media for education and enables schools to create and safely share videos, podcasts and blogs.

I have been impressed with the way that the teacher involved in the school project has provided a framework for positive online behaviour to the classes involved. Whilst my daughters have been actively using children’s social networks such as Club Penguin for some years, many of their friends have already established an account on Facebook even though they are under 13 years of age (the legal age for accounts on Facebook, Google and Twitter).

My daughters were also encouraged to write an article about the theme for this years Safer Internet Day, “Connect With Respect”. The image in this article is an extract of one of the articles that my youngest daughter wrote.

I’ve been impressed that so many corporates have been getting behind Safer Internet Day for example the Disney Club Penguin TV advert about connecting with respect.

Encouraging children to learn good practice on how to safely participate online can not however be left just to schools, the media and legislation. Our role as parents has evolved and we need to talk about online privacy with our children. I am sure will become more challenging as my children enter their teenage years and are perhaps dismissive of my suggestions!

Here are ten areas for you discuss with your children to help them stay safe online and managing their online reputation and digital footprint:

  1. Think before you post any message or content – once it is published online it is not always easy to delete
  2. Search for yourself in the search engines and in social networks to see if people have been posting things about you
  3. Consider the language you use and be respectful of others views even if they are different to your own
  4. Protect your access to your accounts by using secure passwords
  5. Do not share your password for your social networks to your friends
  6. Log out of your social networks and online accounts when you have finished using them
  7. Manage your privacy settings for your different social networks especially if you do not want everything you publish online to be seen publically
  8. Discuss with your friends what they will tag and the type of content you do not wanted be tagged in
  9. Learn how to manage and opt out of content you have been tagged in
  10. Know who to tell if you have a problem or have been bullied online.

Six Resources To Help Keep Your Children Safe Online

There are many tools and resources now available. Here are a couple that you may find of assistance:

The Google Family Safety Centre providing tools for parents and guardians.

Understanding YouTube and digital citizenship resources for teachers of secondary schools

The Digital Universe of Your Children’ is a new resource that covers tips for parents to help them manage their children’s activities online and has resources for people in Belgium, Czech Republic,Germany, Hungary, Ireland, The Netherlands, Spain and the UK.

A resource on the BBC website for teachers to help them educate children on how to use Twitter for reporting and journalism.

Here in Ireland check out resources from WebWise. They have also launched a new site called “Watch Your Space” which is a portal for young people to show their support for victims of cyber bullying.

Argos in the UK have a partnership with Norton Online Family and have made the software available – it encourages discussion between you and your children about what they do online so you can teach them safe behaviour and good cyber habits.

What do you other resources do you recommend in terms of encouraging young people to stay safe online while at the same time developing their digital literacy which is going to be imperative for their future careers?