Tech corner

Parent shares the challenges of talking to kids about their digital lives

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We've joined forces with leading online safety organisation Internet Matters to help combat the dangers youngsters face in the digital world.

Here, one mum shares her experiences of talking to her children about keeping safe while surfing the web.

Finding the right time and approach to talk to children about what they do online can be tricky. For Eileen a married mum of two children aged eight and 10 it is particularly difficult as she shares her story.

As her children have got a little older, Eileen admits that it becomes harder to keep them away from online games and apps. “I find it very hard to say no, especially because my son is 10, and will have agreed with friends to play at certain times,” she says.

Finding time to talk about online safety is hard

With younger children, it’s often hard to find the right time and information to teach kids about social media dangers, Eileen feels. “We don’t talk about it very often. It’s prompted by social media, or friends might remind us,” she says.

While Eileen’s son is very cyber-smart, Eileen confesses it’s not so easy with her daughter. “My son is aware of the dangers, and would ask my husband and I for advice if he felt something wasn’t right,” she says. “But I worry more for my daughter as I don’t think she is so aware.”

Using parental controls to keep kids safe

To help them feel more confident, Eileen and her husband have installed parental control software, which allows them to restrict Internet content so that it is age appropriate.

“We also receive a weekly email to inform us which sites they have visited, and which sites were blocked. We can fine-tune the blocking if required. At the moment, I rely on this and odd conversations about things like cyber-bullying.”

Biggest online concern

As the children continue to increase the amount of time they spend online, Eileen’s biggest challenge is knowing how to approach subjects with the children. “I feel that it is always hard to discuss new relationships,” she says. “They might think they’re making online friends, but how do they know if they are being groomed?”

For more parents’ stories about tackling the issues surrounding online safety visit - www.internetmatters.org/hub/parent-online-safety-stories

 KCOM is an official supporter of online safety organisation Internet Matters as part of its drive to help local parents keep their children safe in the digital world.

Internet Matters is backed by the UK’s biggest broadband providers and supported by leading online child safety experts.

Its website offers a host of e-safety resources and advice for parents on issues including online bullying and making sure children don’t have access to inappropriate content.

Advice is organised into useful guides aimed at different age groups, ranging from the under-fives to teenagers. Parents and schools are able to download these resources for free from the website www.internetmatters.org

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