11 August 2021
Being a good digital role model to your child
Children get lots of messages about online safety, but this can be confusing for them if the adults around them appear to not be following the advice they are giving. Your children look to you for guidance, so it is not just about what advice you give to them, but also what you do yourself.
There are many online behaviours that we want our children to adopt: to be kind to others online; to talk to us about any online issues and many more. But how do we model these behaviours? To avoid ‘do as I say, not as I do’, think about your own online habits and what you are setting as an example.
What are your online habits?
- Do you keep passwords safe and not share them with others?
Talk with your child to remind them that passwords are private and should not be shared with others and show that this is what you do. You can see more password tips here.
- Do you schedule your notifications to turn off for certain times of the day?
It can be good for all of us to have a break, but particularly for our children who may be feeling overwhelmed. Lead by example and use the ‘do not disturb’ feature or look at your device settings to change when notifications can be delivered. Your Family Agreement could include all notifications turned off during the evening – or a time to suit your family. Find more wellbeing tips here.
- Do you talk about things you read online with your children?
There has been a rise in false information shared online, so now is a good time to talk to your child about fake news. Talk to them about what you have seen, and why you’ve questioned if it could be false. This will help them to develop the skills to always think and question what they see. Read more about fake news and how to spot it.
- Do you think about what you are sharing online?
We tell children not to share pictures online of them in their school uniforms, but at the start of every school year many parents do just this. This can be confusing for your child, but also an opportunity to discuss how you are doing this safely e.g. privacy settings, small networks on social media etc. If your children don’t know how you are minimising risk, then your actions could be reinforcing more risky online behaviours.
Modelling good behaviour includes asking their permission first and not over-sharing. When asking them, show them the image you want to share, assure them you are only sharing with family and that you have privacy settings in place to prevent anybody else seeing it. If they say they don't want that image to be shared honour their decision. This teaches them trust and respect, it is something they will replicate with their online use.
You are trying to teach your children to be mindful about what they are sharing, particularly sharing details that could identify where they live or places they go (such as school uniforms), so you should also be mindful when you are posting pictures yourself. Read this article to help think about sharing images online.
Talking about settings
We suggest looking at apps and games with your child to look at settings that you can use to keep them safe (look at our app reviews for details), but what about your online profiles? Is your social media profile set to friends only? A really good example for children is for you to follow what you are asking them to do – show them that you’ve put in place settings to keep your details private too.
Each family is different, and what works for you might be different to their friends’ families. You should have a Family Agreement that everyone in your household can follow and which you can amend as time passes and children get older and develop more skills. An agreement helps to put boundaries in place to establish good online behaviour and encourages conversations about online safety. If you have more than one child, there might be different agreements for each child (depending on their age or skills) but there should be some things that are common for everyone such as not sharing images of others without permission, no devices before breakfast or always asking before downloading a new app.