Yesterday, organizations around the world offered resources as part of Safer Internet Day. Many of those efforts focused on helping children stay safe as they grow up in a world in which they’re surrounded by the internet. At home, at school, even in the car, it’s possible to stay connected at all times. This signals a new communications frontier that children even a few years ago didn’t have to cope with.
As such, it’s the responsibility of parents to usher their children safely through this increasingly digital age. This will require attentiveness, as even if your child is still relatively young now, it won’t be long before they’re asking for their own phone or tablet. In fact, you might be surprised just how early they ask for these things.
A new editorial caught our eye because it provides a guide on how parents can instill a sense of responsibility when it comes to phone usage. Today’s phones do far more than just dial a number. They can log into the internet and do just about everything that a computer can do. Parents have to be aware of how to safely introduce their kids to phones and then make sure they’re handling that responsibility.
The report linked to above references the various situations in which it might be appropriate to introduce a child to a cellphone. It addresses things like medical issues, children being left home alone, and the age at which a child may be ready to receive their own phone.
Even though Safer Internet Day was yesterday, there are still important takeaways for parents to understand. Strict ground rules need to be put in place for the phone as you approach the device as the internet-ready machine that it is.
Kids should know to avoid unsecured WiFi hotspots if they’re going to be using sites that require a password. They should know how to approach social media interactions in a safe manner that won’t have them posting sensitive details of their private lives for the world to see. And they should understand the times that the cellphone needs to be set aside, namely late at night. The potential for unwise decisions increases the later it gets, so if you place a limit on usage at a certain time, you may help your child avoid danger.
Explain to your children the danger posed by distracted walking; they could end up walking directly into traffic or an obstacle. And when they’re old enough, you have to now have the “distracted driving” talk. This should be approached with the seriousness of intoxicated driving. Teach kids that it is not acceptable and that the action could prompt the takeaway of the phone and car alike. You may also invest in systems that track driving behavior to ensure safety in this regard.