Staying safe online

Staying safe online

Are your children staying safe online?  It’s a question that strikes fear into every parent’s heart!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a social function and the conversation ended up focusing on the various perils of technology.  Are our children using it too much?  Are they being exposed to inappropriate words and images or, worse yet, are they being targeted by online predators or bullies?

I read a very disturbing fact the other day, 1 in 7 kids will be approached online by a sexual predator ( resource: www.loveourchildrenusa.org).

That was almost enough to prompt me to shut down the computer and never let my daughter near it again!  Realistically though, technology and the internet are here to stay and it wouldn’t be very practical to try to insulate her from something that is going to be such a big part of her life in the years to come (I don’t know about your kids, but my daughter has been using computers for school research and other activities since Grade 1 and I don’t see that changing anytime soon).

This is a topic that can seem rather overwhelming, especially for those of us who aren’t exactly ‘blazing a trail’ with respect to technology.  It is extremely important that we keep our children safe from the many dangers online, but where do you start?  There are a number of things that we, as parents, should do to protect our children (e.g. set up technology with safety in mind and oversee technology use), but it is equally as important that we teach our children how to protect themselves online (after all, we can’t be there 24/7).  The majority of our children have grown up with technology and are very comfortable with it, but most were never taught how to use it safely.  Learning this life skill could truly save their lives!

I believe that we need to start building this life skill when our children are still young, before they are faced with the even greater dangers of social media and the like.  If we start building a foundation of responsible technology use in their pre-teens (and even earlier), they will be much better equipped to handle what the teen years throw at them.

I felt so passionate about this, that I started researching this topic as a means of protecting my own daughter from the ever-growing list of online dangers.  However, I soon decided that thousands of other parents could use this information to protect their children, too.  There was so much information about internet safety and security out there, but it was scattered all over the place and was often contradictory.

I believed that parents really needed organized, easy-to-understand-and- implement guidelines.  They also needed child-friendly ‘training scripts’  (some interesting examples and screen shots to enhance learning wouldn’t hurt, either) to talk to their children about the various online dangers and show their kids what they can do to protect themselves in the cyber-world.

After months of research, Internet Safety Academy was born!  I truly believe that it gives parents the tools they need to create cyber-safe families!  Check it out here!

For more tips on keeping your kids safe online, read my posts entitled, “YouTube Safety” and “The dangers of online chatting“.

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