Understanding online safety is tricky for all ages. There is a wealth of books and resources available to help you make sure that your students and children know how to stay safe online.
Talking To Children About Online Safety
For those of us who experienced life with little to no technology, we are able to ascertain the difference between online and offline lives. However, for those growing up in the digital age, there is no difference. There is an obsession with the ‘lives’ that are being ‘lived’ online. Healthy boundaries are blurred due to little to no privacy, thanks to overexposure.
Technology is often moving at an extraordinarily fast pace. This makes it difficult to know how to start talking to children about what they do online, who they might be speaking to, and discussing potential risks.
As a parent or educational institution, it is easy to be overwhelmed with the different technology, the language children use, the large number of games and apps available, and the potential dangers.
Talking to them is a great place to start, but you will need to create space for them to open up to you. Make it part of the daily conversations, like you would ask a child about their day at school. This will help them feel relaxed, and it will encourage them to open up to you.
Be A Digital Role Model
Children get a wealth of information on varying levels in school, at home, and on the internet. This can be confusing for them if the adults that surround them do not follow their own advice. Children are observant individuals who are following your actions, possibly more so than your advice.
Whether you are a parent, carer, or teacher, they look to you for guidance. It is not just about the conversations you are having with them, and the advice you are imparting, but also what you do yourself.
Books For Children About Online Safety
There are all sorts of books for children to read about online safety. Here are a few that we would recommend:
Staying Safe Online (Usbourne Life Skills) by Louie Stowell
Ages: 11+ years
The internet may be full of amazing possibilities, but like the real world, there are potential dangers. This book tells children what to watch out for and how they can protect themselves. Whether it’s about social media or coming across dangerous people, this guide offers tips and tools to take control and stay safe.
On The Internet: Our First Talk About Online Safety by Dr. Jillian Roberts
Ages: 5-8 years
On The Internet addresses common internet safety concerns in a child-centered way and uses easy-to-understand reasoning on why it is important to maintain boundaries online just as in real life. Dr. Jillian Roberts takes young readers through several common scenarios around parental supervision, cyberbullying, and anonymity. She also includes examples of people who use the internet to make the world a better place.
The Tech Savvy User’s Guide To The Digital World by Lori Getz
Ages: 9-13 years
Unlike previous recommendations, this guide is suitable for tech-savvy teenagers. Not only is this a guide with stories about staying safe online, but it is also an honest and entertaining workbook.
The Technology Tail by Julia Cook
Ages: 4-6 years
Using rhymes and colorful illustrations, this storybook is suitable for much younger readers. The Technology Tail includes tips for parents and teachers who want to reinforce kindness and respect in this high-tech world.
The internet is a wonderful invention that debunked the ‘one size fits all’ approach to education. However, there are potential dangers and risks. It must be used responsibly with safety in mind. Online safety is important for children and young adults to understand. Their use of the internet may unintentionally result in exposure to some dangers. By educating children on online safety, you can help them to understand and navigate a complex digital world. This will provide them with the knowledge of what to do, and minimize risks.
Online Safety Helplines
If you have any concerns about your child’s safety online, here are some important contacts
UK Safer Internet Centre – provides support and services to children, young people, and adults who are facing online dangers. They have professionals working with children, dealing with both prevention and response.
National Cyber Security Centre – supports the general public as well as the public sector and critical organizations in the UK. NCSC responds to cyber security incidents. There is a wealth of information and resources available on their website.
Child Exploitation and Online Protection Services (CEOP) – dedicated to eradicating the sexual abuse of children online. Please contact either your local police force on 101 or 999 in an emergency. You can also report to CEOP online.
Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) – UK hotline for the public to report child sexual abuse content on the internet. The foundation work with the internet industry and the police in the UK and abroad. If you prefer, you can report anonymously on their website.
Get Safe Online – UK’s leading source for unbiased information. It is funded by several government departments and provides factual and easy-to-understand information on online safety.
Parents Protect – aims to raise awareness about child sexual abuse, answers questions, and gives adults information and advice on how they can protect children. Helpline: 0808 1000 900.