National Parents Council to offer free Internet safety courses in 2016
The National Parents Council and Virgin Media have urged parents buying games consoles, smartphones and computers for children this Christmas to consider how they will manage the technology in the home.
The call was made at the launch of a series of free Internet safety classes to be delivered nationwide over the next three years for parents of primary school children in 2016.
According to the DIT study Net Children Go Mobile released earlier this year, the most popular device used by children to go online is the smartphone. Some 72% of Irish children use the Internet daily at home. Domestic access by children to the internet (in their own bedroom or elsewhere at home) increases with age, rising from 53% of 9-10 year-olds to 92% of younger teenagers.
Mobile internet users are much more likely to use the Internet at home every day (93% for smartphone users and 95% for tablet users) than those who use smartphones or tablets (52%).
Aine Lynch, CEO, National Parents Council (Primary), said: “With the proliferation of highly mobile Internet devices, more and more children are going online in the privacy of their bedroom or out and about, away from direct parental supervision. Parents need to start a conversation as early as possible with their children around online activity that is both age appropriate, respectful of others and individually safe. That includes moderation and explanation around the content they are viewing, access to account passwords and filtering where necessary. Parents have hectic lives and this is just one further task on their hands, but it’s a truly important job that is very significant for the wellbeing of their children.”
Virgin Media CEO Tony Hanway said: “Technology and the Web offer children a world of opportunity but very often children are more technology savvy than their parents or teachers. Protecting children online is just as important as protecting them offline. This joint initiative will help parents guide and support their children in today’s digitally enabled world. The classes given by the National Parents Council will educate parents on ways they can protect their children online.”
In the meantime, the organisations have released a set of top 10 tips for parents for how to manage technology in the home.
Top 10 tips for keeping kids safe online
1. Talk to your child about what they do on the Internet (ie hat sites they are interested in, what games they enjoy)
2. Get informed, read up on Internet safety issues from trusted sources
3. Ask your child to show you their favourite sites
4. Know how many ways your child has access to the Internet (eg phone, tablets, XBox, smart TV or other Web-enabled device)
5. Do things online together
6. Set ground rules with your child about using the Internet, such as imposing time limits, keeping mobile phones downstairs, etc
7. Have a presence on social media yourself
8. Talk to your child about what to do if they get a message they are not comfortable with: don’t respond ot it, keep the message, block the sender, and tell an adult you trust
9. Talk to your child about their Internet use when they are out of the home or with friends
10. Don’t forget there are very positive aspects to using the Internet and that they far outweigh the negatives