How 'Internet Safety' talks have become the new stranger danger talks for parents
Times are changing for parents.
Growing up in the 90s I remember the stranger danger talk well.
Don't take sweets off someone you don't know.
Don't get into anyone's car.
Don't walk off with someone you don't know.
The internet was in its infancy at the time and there was no talk about internet safety because hardly anyone owned a home computer at the time or had internet access.
It wasn't until my mid to late teen years that social media became a thing (hello Bebo) and even then internet safety talks were few and far between.
That's all changed now though.
Whether it's for help with a school project or to watch something on YouTube, children and teenagers on using the internet more than ever.
While there are many pluses to this, especially during lockdown when schooling became virtual, there is also the darker side of the internet.
A recent survey found that parents are taking internet safety education seriously with nine out of ten parents with kids aged 12 and older have had at least one intentional talk with their children about internet safety rules and techniques.
Even with my own child who is only nine, I recently had to get rid of the option to play a video game online as he was receiving inappropriate messages from other players.
Many parents have also found that some children are coming across adult content on YouTube as some uploads masquerading as cartoons have been edited to have over 18 content.
And that's all before we even touch on cyber bullying and predatory adults.
While there are many tips on how to monitor your child online or how to put safety apps on your home computer or their phone there is only one way to truly know what your child is seeing online.
Open parent/child communication.
Talk to your child.
Ask them about what they like to use the internet for.
Let them know they can come to you about anything they feel uncomfortable with online whether it be bullying or messages that seem like they might be from an adult.
The best tips and tricks on internet safety won't do any good if your child can find a computer or phone you don't know about to access the internet.
But you will know what they are using the internet for if you keep the lines of communication open.
Back in our parents' day there was no sure fire way for them to keep us safe when we walked out of the house other the advice they gave us and it's not so different now.
There is no 100 per cent, full proof way to keep our children safe online, but letting them know we're here when they need us could be life saving.