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Cyber safety: Why you should become your kid's Facebook friend
Janice Biehn (right) of ParentsCanada and Lynn Hargrove (left) of Symantec Canada say an open dialogue about your child's Internet activities is key to keeping them safe online.
Parents are raising a generation of children who’ve grown up with the Internet, and its steady stream of information constantly a few clicks away.
But policing that access is becoming more of a challenge for parents.
A new study published in the latest edition of ParentsCanada magazine shows 82 per cent of parents feel they have no control over their child’s online activities.
“The translation there is they don’t understand,” editor of ParentsCanada Janice Biehn told CTV’s Canada AM on Monday. “So when you feel out of control, it is because you’re not understanding what they’re doing when they’re online.”
The study looked at a survey of more than 1,600 parents throughout Canada who were asked about how they’re coping with technological advances and the effect on their children.
Lynn Hargrove of computer security software-maker Symantec Canada says it’s no longer acceptable for parents to say, ‘My kid knows more than me’.
“Parents need to become better educated,” she said.
Regardless of your child’s age, Hargrove said it’s important to have an open dialogue about Internet safety and privacy.
“You wouldn’t send them out to the mall without talking to them first, so don’t send them onto the Internet without preparing them,” she said.
Hargrove said even children as young as 7-years-old have the ability to post personal information online.
For children in the 5 to 7 age group, she recommends implementing strong browser settings to prevent access to certain websites and ensuring cell phones are password-protected.
Hargrove said parents should talk to children about what websites they visit and who they chat with online. Once a dialogue of trust is established, parents can ask their children if they’ve ever been to a website that’s made them uncomfortable.
When children are in the 7 to 12 age group, parents should have a conversation about cyberbullying and the ramifications of posting photos and videos online.
“If (children) post it, make sure they realize it’s like shouting out in your schools’ cafeteria, because that’s what it’s like,” Biehn said. “It doesn’t go away.”
Biehn said friending your teenage children on Facebook could be an easy way to encourage them to think twice about what they’re posting.
“I always tell my kids, don’t put anything on your Facebook page that you would feel embarrassed if I saw it.”
Have your own cyber safety tip? Share them with us in the comments below.