Tuesday, October 30, 2012

7 simple rules for protecting my 15 year old online

Parents have to get involved with their children when it comes to using any sort of online space.

Would you give your 15 year old the keys of your car and just say 'off with you'? 
I don't think so! Yet so many parents are giving their kids smartphones, wifi access at home, laptops etc and yet they are not teaching them how to use them, how to behave online. 

Kids need to be given a set of rules about using any sort of online space:

My simple rules are:

1. Permission: My 15 year old is not allowed to join any new social media or other site without talking to me first 

2. Facebook: 
  • She has been shown how to set her privacy settings to the max, shown where to go and what to do if someone manages to get to her with anything sinister, 
  • She is only allowed to be friends with people she actually knows and is friends with
  • She has been told not to post or tell anyone where she lives and to never meet anyone as a result of a connection online. 
  • She has to stay friends with me on Facebook so as I can check over her shoulder so to speak every so often to make sure things are okay with her page. This is not about spying, it's not about intruding. It's about keeping her safe. 
In the last number of months she is using Facebook less and less as she says much of what is on it is nonsense and superficial. 

3. Twitter: I let her go onto Twitter this year and again many of the same rules apply here. I also gave her a full tutorial about it before she was allowed to tweet.

4. Acceptable behaviour: I explained to her what acceptable behaviour is on any/all social media sites and that she should never go onto a social media site when she is angry about something. Let them know that they do not have to take or put up with nasty comments or threats to them on any social media platform or in real life. Make them understand what is/is not acceptable behaviour online and in real life. Tell them to come to you with event the smallest concern and to NEVER let things escalate and get out of hand. Make sure you make time to hear them and to really listen.

5. Get onto social media yourself: My daughter knows that I am immersed in and knowledgeable about social media and that I understand it. The only reason I initially joined Facebook was to be one step ahead of the kids. If your kids are going on social media then you as the parent should be on it too.  
If you are allowing your kids on social media then you have to be there too to advise them and to protect them. If you are online then you might spot and stop something developing into an issue for them. 

6. Do not ban them from social media: I don’t think the answer is to keep your kids off social media as they will just find a way to be on it on a friend’s phone or at school. The key is to teach them about it, to tell them what is/isn’t acceptable behaviour online and to give them rules and instruction in how to use it.

7. One final piece of advice. Teach your children how to do a screen grab/screenshot so if they are bullied or if someone is behaving inappropriately towards them, they can screen grab the evidence. The instructions on how to take a screen shot follow:

Taking a Screenshot

To take a screen shot please complete the following steps:

For Windows
Press the "Print Screen" button.
Open Microsoft Paint. To do this, click Start > All Programs > Accessories > Paint.
Click inside the white part of the screen.
Go to the Edit menu and select Paste.
Click File > Save As.
In the box that pops up, change the "Save As" type to JPG.
After typing in a filename for your image, choose a location on your hard drive to save to, like the Desktop, and click "Save."

For Mac OS X
Simultaneously hold down the ⌘-Shift-4 keys.
Press the spacebar.
Click the open window that you wish to take a screen shot of. The screen shot should appear as a file on the desktop labeled "Picture 1."
Please note that in Mac OS X 10.6, the file is "Screen shot [date] at [time]."

For iPhone
Simultaneously press and hold the power and home buttons.
The screen will momentarily flash white.
The screenshot will appear in your "Camera Roll" album.

Use your phone's camera

Most kids now have a camera on their phone and if they are panicked and forget how to do a screen grab then get them to take a quick photo with their camera phone.

As a parent I can't bear the thought of another young life being lost because of cyber bullies and my heart goes out to that family – those two families who lost their beautiful daughters to cyber bullies in the last couple of weeks. 

It makes me very angry that the parents of the cyber bullies did not know where their children were online and what they were doing. Perhaps they didn’t care…..

It’s time to get serious parents and to know where your children are and what they are doing online. No one is going to do it for you so please take the time to teach, to monitor and to protect your children online. 

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