You can’t help but worry about your kids and the internet. Parents tell me all the time about their concerns with their children using the internet and one of their biggest worries is online bullying. The question that all parents wrestle with is how to protect their children whilst giving them the freedom and ability to enjoy the internet in a way that is safe and fun. All the while not to making them different from their friends, which is a big worry for most parents.
As with most things, there is no easy answer. You have to do what feels right both for you as a family, but also for your child, who may or may not feel as confident using the internet as their peers do. I talk to some parents who have put many restrictions on their child’s internet access so they can feel confident about where they are going online. I have also talked to parents who have taken a very different approach. They have put almost no limits in place, other than explaining that they will closely monitor their internet use and then 24 hours later sat down with their children to talk through all the sites they have visited, and why, including ones they shouldn’t have. Embarrassment can work wonders.
My advice? Well, as with most things where you’re trying to guide your children to make good choices and be responsible, you should make a decision based on what is right for you, and then talk this through with your child, explaining your rationale. To help them be successful, you then need to reinforce and reinforce it again so you’ve made it very clear what’s expected and that it’s a decision you’re going to stick to.
Then having done the hard work and set the limits of how your child will use the internet- give them the freedom to live up to your expectations. Children, as with anything, will only learn about the internet by doing, taking risks (but in a way that you control) and sometimes making mistakes. It’s the way we all learn.