The world our children were brought into is a world where kids, with their iPads, laptops, and even smartphones, can access a vast online space where it could be challenging to track what they are seeing and who they are interacting with. In addition to that, we—as parents, educators, and guardians—sometimes find it challenging to catch up with all the new technology. This two-pronged challenge puts our children at risk while online.
How can we teach our children to be effective, cautious users of the Internet? In this episode of Chatabout Children, we invited Kirra Pendergast to help us understand the difficult-to-navigate world of social media and the internet.
Since 2007, Kirra Pendergast had been educating people on the safe use of social media. She consults in social media security, privacy, and risk management. In 2009, Kirra founded Australia’s first consulting company focused on these areas. She has a deep personal understanding on cyber bullying and trolling, making her work more valuable when working with victims of cyberbullying. Her company, Safe in Social Media, educates people and organizations about the law and how they can reduce online safety and privacy risks. Kirra Pendergast is also a public speaker and educator who has presented to over 300,000 students, teachers, and parents in schools across Australia and New Zealand and at countless legal seminars, government and business events, as well as conference and business staff well-being sessions.
- How an incident at a previous job led Kirra to her current field
- The best age to teach children about social media and the best way to start doing so
- Trends, stats, and research on how parents introduce social media to their children
- How parents can monitor their children’s social media activity
- Examples of security child safety issues posed by children’s use of social media that parents are usually unaware of
- Parental controls that parents should take advantage of
- Behaviors parents should role model on their children with regards to social media use
- The best ways to describe social media platforms to children
- Children’s need for autonomy as they grow older
- Silent signs that something is wrong with your child in social media
- The importance of building trust-based relationship with your child
Kirra’s Take-Home Tips for Parents
- For children 6 under, you have to be very mindful of platforms that have a chat function in it.
- Devices should not be in the bedroom at a certain time in the evening.
- Teach your child to help a friend deal with social media issues.
- Talk to your child about online safety and remind him or her not to mention personal information that predators could use.
- Teach your child to protect his or her passwords.
- Make sure that the apps and games in your child’s device are age-appropriate.
“Kids now—online and off—is the same thing. It’s just life. So, a parent should be as actively involved in a child’s online life as they are in their offline life. It’s really important.”
“We want trust-based relationships in place with our children. We want them to know that if something goes wrong, if something feels weird in their stomach, if something they see in the internet is scary, or they want to talk about it, that they can—without judgment, they can come straight to you. That is a really important foundation to build in as young as possible.”
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The information presented does not replace or substitute the expert advice received from a direct consultation with the relevant qualified professional.