For most modern parents – keeping tabs on the internet – can be an overwhelming task.
It seems like every other week, there’s a new app, game, or website that’s potentially harmful for kids.
While most children have a positive experience online, and the internet can be a fantastic resource for learning and fun, unfortunately there are pitfalls and dangers.
Former detective and founder of Internet Safe Education Brett Lee saw the horrors of child exploitation and sexual abuse firsthand, investigating scores of cases, as a specialist in the field of internet child exploitation.
Brett says that before we hand a child an internet-enabled device, we need to be teaching them the dos and don’ts of internet safety.
Broadly speaking, he says parents need to focus on three main things when educating their children about the online world:
“It’s important for parents to have strategies and to know these strategies are powerful even though they’re simple. They don’t need to be an internet expert and they don’t need to look over their kids’ shoulders 24 hours a day.
“Just because the internet does have those dangers, doesn’t make it a bad place, and when focusing on these three bits of advice, they’re going to reduce risk when it comes to their children.”
Brett agrees that technology has added another layer of responsibility to the role of parenting, but he says rather than keeping up with all technology, the key is to harness some simple strategies:
Brett says parents can quickly check whether a game or an app is suitable for their child by visiting Common Sense Media – an independent non-profit site which reviews TV shows, movies, books and technology – and gives parents thorough up-to-date information about parental controls, privacy and security, and age-appropriateness.
“And then parents can have a conversation with their child and say, ‘Look, I’ve seen where some young people have had problems here. I would prefer our family not to be part of this’ and guide them towards another program or activity.”
Brett has recorded a special podcast on internet safety for Life Education Queensland to coincide with Child Protection Week.