Building safe online habits
What you need to know
Instilling good online habits when using devices is just as important as using technology settings to keep your child safe online.
Good habits for technology use include:
- Open and regular communication
- Encouraging critical thinking and questioning suspicious behaviour.
While there is no ‘quick fix’ when it comes to online safety or protecting your child from harm, there are some simple things you can do now.
Advice for parents and carers
What you can do
- Always supervise your child when they are online
- Encourage your child to identify trusted adults who can help.
It’s never too early to start teaching young children about technology and online safety. The early learning resource Playing IT Safe can help you do this.
Playing IT Safe is a free resource developed for prior to school aged children. It’s an introduction to digital technology and online safety education and includes a series of play-based activities that children can undertake in early learning environments with educators, and at home with parents and carers.
You can access Playing IT Safe at http://www.playingitsafe.org.au
What you can do
- Supervise your child when they’re using a connected device
- Set ground rules for when and where your child can use connected devices
- Talk to your child about what they do online, including what games they play and what apps they’re using
- Do your research on the games and apps they use – you could also ask your child to show you how they work
- Teach your child to think critically about interacting with people online.
Make sure your child is comfortable to approach you when something isn’t right.
Your child may be reluctant to tell you about issues online if they believe they will be punished or you’ll take their devices away, which can make them more secretive or vulnerable to exploitation.
Just removing the device won’t necessarily solve the problem: respond to the issue by talking to your child about what’s happened and consider whether you need to make a report to police.
The Family Online Safety Contract is a shared family agreement to support family discussion. We developed this contract together with the Carly Ryan Foundation. The contract is one way for you to approach boundaries and expectations around your child’s online activities.
What you can do
- Have open and non-judgemental conversations with your child about what they’re doing online and who they’re talking to
- Research or download apps you’re unsure of and even use them to see how they work
- Learn about the features of the apps your child uses and the safety challenges
- Remind your child to use critical thinking skills like questioning suspicious behaviour or random ‘friend’ requests
- Be approachable if your child needs help. Let them know nothing is so bad that they can’t talk about it.
If your child is in this age group they may be unsupervised on their device in some environments, such as at a friend’s house or even at school.
They may also seek more privacy around their online interactions.
You should continue to encourage your child to recognise what is age appropriate, and empower them to make informed decisions about their online interactions even while unsupervised.
The Family Online Safety Contract is a shared family agreement to support discussions and is one way for you to approach boundaries and expectations with your child. We developed this contract together with The Carly Ryan Foundation. Involve your child in the development of the contract to be part of the decision making process.