Saturday, 28 February 2015

Keeping My Children Safe Online

My oldest daughter Chloe is twelve and these days she no longer plays with toy's, instead preferring to spend all of her free time in her room talking to her friends online or watching the latest Zoella video. Her room is full of the latest technology, she owns a laptop, tablet, iPhone and iPod and sometimes even uses all four of them at once so she can do multiple things online. Sometimes I find her watching a youtube video on her laptop while talking to her friends on her phone while searching for things on her tablet and listening to music on her iPod.

                       iphone, latop, ipod, tablet

Times have certainly changed as when I was her age there was no such thing as tablets and iPhones, we had a family pc which was in the dining room so my parents could see what myself and my brother were up to, although there were no social media sites back in those days. I do worry about what Chloe is up to online and we have parental blocks on our broadband and we also regularly check all of her devices and social media accounts. However, the Internet is now such a huge part of everyday life and children and teenagers are spending more time than ever online. Some of the Social media channels Chloe uses I had never even heard of such as ooVoo and Kik. 

So it comes as no surprise to me when I recently read an article on Tech Lounge which had picked up on some research carried out by My Voucher Codes about what us parents were most concerned about with our children being online. The results show that parents are most worried about online bullying and children sharing inappropriate images online and accessing adult content. The results showed that 
  • 58% of parents are extremely worried about online bullying
  • 49% of parents were extremely worried about children accessing adult content
  • 49% of parents were extremely worried about children sharing inappropriate image
  • 48% are concerned about online grooming
  • 44% are concerned about there child accessing extremism
  • 57%  were concerned about addiction to social media
  • 66% are concerned about effects on education
  • 55% have concerns about privacy
  • 49% have concerns about there child's long-term health
  • 65% were not worried about children running up huge bills
As a parent I worry about everything on this list, the media is always full of heartbreaking stories of teenagers committing suicide due to online bullying and of young girls meeting strangers off the Internet whom they have been groomed by. As a parent, I feel the Internet can be both a wonderful place but also a terrifying one at the same time. 

As a blogger, I am also very careful about what I share online I make sure I do not share my children's surnames, the town we live, where my oldest goes to school, and I also do not share that many photographs of them online either.

For me my biggest fear's are online grooming, sharing inappropriate images and online bullying closely followed by privacy concerns. I regularly talk to Chloe about online dangers and ensure that she only adds people she knows to social media and that all of her accounts are set to private. I also regularly check all of her devices and accounts when she is not expecting me to, so that she can not delete anything beforehand. And I hope that if anything happened online such as bullying she would feel that she could talk to me about it.Which is what most parents said that they also do to protect their children in the survey.

The results also surprised me a little as some of the things on the list such as accessing extremism had never even crossed my mind, although this is a very common thing happening in this day and age. I also never thought about her online use affecting her long-term health in any way although if she was bullied or became addicted to social media then I am sure it would have a huge impact upon her future long-term health. I am currently not worried about her running up a huge bill as she only has a pay as you go mobile and she can not access her iTunes account, as we have set it up so she needs to ask us to put the password in for her when she wants to download something. Although I do sometimes worry as she gets older she may run up a big bill, as I ran up a huge phone bill when I was a teenager, sorry dad. 

As a parent result like this show us that we all have concerns about our children's safety whilst online and it also gives us some things to think about that we may never have thought about before and which we can now be more aware of. If you have children I would love to know what you do to protect your child online and what concerns you have about them going online?

Disclosure this is a collaborative post. 

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