Safer internet day

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Safer Internet Day: How proactive parents can protect their children [video]

Safer Internet Day is observed annually on 11 February. It is a world-wide event used to raise awareness about online safety. Everyone is encouraged to help create a better online environment.

Safer internet day

Image via Adobe Stock

Parents today are faced with an entirely new set of challenges and digital parenting, something previous generations of parents never had to worry about.

Here’s what you need to know about Safer Internet Day. We’ll also look at a few practical tips for parents to keep their kids safe online.

Safer Internet Day origin

Safer Internet Day came has been observed since 2012, when the US Department of Homeland Security and the European Commission decided it was time to tame the beast that was the Internet.

It kicked off in the United States the following year when Connect Safely was appointed to coordinate local efforts. Connect Safely chooses a theme each year to help promote their goals.

Some of these goals are centred around actions and activism around net safety, while others focus on cyberbullying and working towards finding a way for technology to help effect social change.

How to celebrate Safer Internet Day

The first point of action is to take a step back and find a way to expand your personal online safety portfolio. This can be done by learning how to spot cases of cyberbullying.

Ensure that your identity is protected, and that the people in your life are protected too. Connect Safely has a Safety Tips and Advice section, perfect for anyone who doesn’t know where to start.

What parents should keep in mind

Social behaviour

Parents could start by checking their online behaviour before diving into cyberbullying, as recent studies found that 73% of adults have witnessed online harassment, while 40% experienced it first-hand, by other adults.

Connect Safely reminds parents to “never underestimate your child’s ability to monitor you as you are supposed to be monitoring them”.

Watch: Safer Internet Day theme: #FreeToBe

Be present

The best way to ensure a child’s safety online, is to make sure they aren’t interacting with content that could cause harm. Parents should be overbearing either, but instead encourage children healthy online behaviour.

Younger children could benefit from using their devices in communal areas of a home, where it would be easier for a parent to monitor the content exposed to them, without being overbearing.

Stay Involved

Internet safety isn’t a once-off crash course; it’s a process that needs constant attention. Parents need to stay up to date with the latest scams and predatory behaviour in order to safeguard their children against it.

Parents could also consider using the My First Mobile Agreement as a fun way to guide the discussion around Internet safety while creating a safe space for their children to grow and learn.

Use apps wisely

Apple’s parental control settings are pretty concise when it comes to managing screen time and setting restrictions for certain apps, while Android’s Family Link app helps lay down digital rules in the household.

Other apps worth exploring include Norton’s Family Premier which parents can use to set time limits and gain insight into how their children are using the Internet access they’ve been given.

“Norton Family Premier offers an impressive range of parental control and monitoring features for parents of today’s hyper-connected kids.”

Neil J. Rubenking, Lead Analyst for Security and President of the San Francisco PC User Group.