No matter how hard you try, you can’t be there all the time. This is the most difficult aspect of being a parent. Right from birth, children start wanting to explore the world on their own.
Sooner or later they will have to become independent, but as you let them take each step towards it you’ll always be afraid that they might get hurt as a result. Using the internet can be part of your child’s progress toward independence – and however dangerous it is, it’s better to take risks there than in the real world. To protect your child, the best thing you can do is to enable them to take responsibility for themselves.
Taking responsibility doesn’t have to mean dealing with everything at once. ~In fact, it starts with children learning how to avoid situations they can’t deal with. Online safety tips for parents always involve helping children to recognise these situations.
It can help for them to have a clear set of rules. Discuss these rules with them until you find something which makes sense to both of you, which is both reasonable and easy to understand, and ask your child to repeat it as a pledge.
This should be undertaken solemnly. The reward for it – the thing you’ll have to give – is trust. Your child gets the freedom to use the internet in exchange for agreeing to use it sensibly and in accordance with those restrictions you think are appropriate.
Taking a pledge is something which most children take very seriously. It also helps to give them the authority to say no to people who try to persuade them to break their rules – such as not identifying themselves or giving out their addresses – because they can borrow that authority from you.
Having it posted beside the computer means they can easily refer to it in situations where they’re unsure. This will help to give them the confidence to take those first steps toward adulthood in a safe and responsible way.