'We need to digitize our parenting': Expert warns of online safety gaps for kids
LONDON, ONT. -- During the pandemic, kids are spending much more time online, and with Tuesday being Safer Internet Day, experts say there are ways all parents can improve the digital supervision of children.
“What we’re seeing on a more day-to-day basis, especially working with youths in the city, is issues with things like cyberbullying, sexting, sharing inappropriate pictures and videos, things like that,” says Const. Jacquie Wilson, a London police secondary school resource officer.
And parents need to play a larger role in learning about how to use the internet says Charlene Doak-Gebauer, author and founder of Internet Sense First.
“We protect them when they learn to drive a car, take them to a mall, but when we’re online that seems to be a place that is missing.”
Doak-Gebauer has written several books on digital safety and says grown-ups need to start digitizing their parenting skills.
One of the things she suggests is creating a digital contract with your children before they have access to technology.
“To discuss it with them, tell them these are the parameters, each person signs the contract, and the children will sometimes come up with things the parents didn’t think of.”
Bryson Jones is a teenager, just wading into social media, he says his mother is active in teaching about the dangers of the internet.
“If any randoms, or people that follow me on social media, she’ll make sure I know them. Or if they are not some creep or something.“
Wilson says the dangers of the internet are not just avoiding the predatory criminals, but also teaching kids that irresponsible use of the internet - even as a teenager - can have life-long effects.
“Even universities and colleges, they can all access that stuff, those are things that can come up in interviews down the road. It may prevent you from getting that job or spot in a school that you were working really hard for.”
It is a reality for kids now says Jones, as one poor decision can follow you for the rest of your life
“I don’t want to mess up now, post something stupid now and regret it later on.”