Can I just interrupt the Christmas Shopping frenzy for a moment while you have a coffee? Actually, it is sort of tied in – I know a huge amount of kids will be getting some new tech for Christmas this year. And I also know that the reason we write about Tech Stuff for Baffled Parents is that so often, a child’s technical knowledge and cyber-smarts totally outstrips their parents. Which is fine, and has always been the way – how many of us remember out parents asking us to programme the VCR for them?
But when it’s the internet instead of the weird new recording box underneath the tv, things can take a turn for the more serious than missing this week’s Eastenders. Cyber safety is a topic very close to my heart – with four kids home educating, all of mine have their own computers, and spend a huge proportion of their day on them. I can’t watch al four every second, so they have all been taught from a very young age just how to stay safe online. Thankfully we’ve not had many issues, and those that have cropped up have been handled quickly and easily thanks to our regular conversations around what to do if it happens.
(if you’re curious, my 11yr old was friended via a game, got to chatting and messaging – not unusual – but within a few weeks was then gifted a brand new £40 game with an 18 age rating by the said ‘boy’. That friendship was terminated at that point. There have also been a few seemingly-innocent online chats which have take a turn to somewhere that made my children feel uncomfortable; they immediately closed them down, blocked the talker, and told us about it).
But I’m always astounded at how many of their friends seem to have free rein on the internet. They have no parental controls set up so can – accidentally or deliberately – stumble into places on the internet that no child ever ought to go (frankly I don’t want to go there myself). They seem to be happy sharing personal details, and really opening themselves up to all sorts of risks.
I’m really pleased to see that BT and Unicef UK have partnered for a three year programme, ‘The Right Click: Internet Safety Matters’, where they host workshops on internet safety in schools. The programme is designed to help children, their families and teachers to use the internet safely and create a forum for open conversations about why and how. This fab video not only raises some of the questions we should all be discussing with our children, but is also a behind the scenes look at a workshop where parents, teachers and children discuss their understanding of internet safety and how they can protect themselves online.
If you want to see how your children’s knowledge is (and check your own too), BT has a brilliant quick quiz to get you thinking in the right direction. I’m pleased to report I got 11/11. Obviously. *cough*