Safety issues associated with the use of the internet are on the rise, and as carers, we often find ourselves more concerned about our children’s safety in the real world than we are concerned about it in the virtual world. The reason behind that discrepancy is that risks in the real world are more tangible to us: we teach or children not to talk to strangers, we make them wear a helmet when riding a bike, we remind them to buckle their seat belts, and we are very serious about them wearing sun block at the beach. But what about their safety in the virtual world? Are we really aware of the risks?
Studies show that children aged 5 to 16 spend an average of 6.5 hours a day in front of a screen compared with around 3 hours in 1995, and that’s why the topics of e-safety and digital citizenship are more pressing than ever.
February 9th Marks “Safer Internet Day”, a worldwide annual event organized by Insafe to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially among children and young people across the world. With a theme of ‘Play your part for a better internet!’, ARIS took part in the movement: Our younger children read a story, and created a circle of trust with the people they will reach out to for help, the older ones created nicknames and passwords that no one can guess to protect their identities online, and Year 5 and 6 got to fill surveys, share opinions, watch videos, and write essential agreements for using the internet.
We talked about many issues including: social networking, personal information, cyber bullying, console games and playing online, viruses and pop-up ads, netiquette, age restrictions, as well as where to go for help when worried about content or contact.
The Internet is a magnificent tool, bringing the whole world together, and providing us with the largest bank of information there ever was. As parents and teachers, we need to make sure our children have a positive experience online throughout their learning and growth, we need to help them become responsible digital citizens, and most of all, we need to keep an open channel of communication with them at all times.