There’s so much advice currently available to help keep kids safe online, and most of it is helpful. However usually in an article you can only go so deep into the reasoning behind a tip, i.e. what makes it so important and why it can make such a big difference.
In this article we’ll delve a bit deeper into one of the most important tips to keep kids safe online that I know can make a positive difference and ease your mind as a parent just a little bit.
Most Important Tip To Keep Kids Safe Online
No doubt you’ve heard this before, but this time I’m adding a new dimension to it so that you’ll be able to take it in on a whole new level. Ready? Here it is:
- Don’t let your children use mobile devices in their bedrooms!
Heard it before? Thought so. But let’s look into how achieving this has recently changed, and new reasons that make it more important than ever before.
Kids Spend Most Of Their Online Time Using Mobile Devices
Recent data from Common Sense Media (The Common Sense Census: Media Use By Kids Age Zero To Eight, 2017) shows that although the time spent by many kids online over the last couple of years has not actually increased, a much higher percentage of that time is spent on mobile devices.
This really isn’t surprising. Kids use phones, i-pads and tablets much more than PC’s or desktop computers, particularly at home. That means that they can walk around the home easily while accessing the internet.
Setting up computers in public spaces in your home (like the living room, for example) is easy for most of us, no problem there. But stopping your child from just walking into their room with their mobile device isn’t quite so simple.
This is why it’s important to have the right conversations with your kids. They need to understand WHY you don’t want them to use mobile devices in their bedroom, and WHAT it is you don’t want to happen. Then hopefully they won’t WANT to use their devices in their bedroom. No doubt about it, this is a real challenge!!
#1 Reason To Keep Devices Out Of Bedrooms – Sleep
One of the simple reasons to keep mobile devices out of bedrooms is to enhance sleep during the night. Everyone knows that children and teens need a lot of sleep, but unfortunately most don’t quite get enough. In my role as an ethics teacher with students in years 3 and 4 I’ve had a student seriously struggle to stay awake in class – and no, my class really isn’t THAT boring! (And yes, the reason was due to staying up late at night playing games online in his bedroom).
Lack of sleep will always have a negative effect on behaviour with children – and with adults too for that matter. Children need sleep to be able to perform well in school and for all other activities, it’s that simple. The only thing worse than a tired and irritable child is a tired and irritable adult!
Having a phone beeping with messages through the night, or playing on games until the early hours of the morning is going to stop your child from getting the sleep he or she so desperately needs in order to function properly the next day. Don’t underestimate the negative effects a lack of sleep can have on your child.
#2 Reason To Keep Devices Out Of Bedrooms – Safety
The second key reason to avoid mobile devices in bedrooms is for your child’s safety. Unfortunately, instances of sexual exploitation of kids have spiralled out of control in recent times. A typical predator is caught with between 80,000-100,000 indecent images in their possession. They can access these images quite easily because they appear online, often without consent.
Sexting, or “sending nudes” as kids refer to it, is seen as a fairly normal activity amongst tweens and teens. After all, everyone is doing it aren’t they? So what’s the big deal?
Well sexting is a big deal, no matter how many children are doing it. Aside from having legal implications as children are producing and distributing pornographic images of themselves, the unintended consequences of sexting can ruin a child’s life. Many children have committed suicide after being bullied incessantly due to an indecent image of themselves being posted online.
Promote Accountability, Not Blame
Often when this happens it’s easy to blame the child who took the image of themselves in the first place. However blaming a child for their image being shared without consent isn’t constructive or helpful, and won’t change anything.
The name of the game is to get through to your child that they are accountable for any words or images they share. Our kids need to understand that they give up control over their images and information once they share them, even if it’s just with a boyfriend or girlfriend they are serious about.
In this day and age it takes strength for a child to deny sending a partner a sexual image of themselves. This is now a common part of the “dating” process for tweens and teens. When a child sends their partner a nude image of themselves, their partner is expected to reciprocate. That’s the sexting etiquette.
Prevention Is Better Than A Cure
We all know that it’s very difficult if at all possible to remove images once they appear online. What goes online stays online, even if removed from its original source. And private images can taunt an adult for a very long time, let alone a child.
By far the easiest way to prevent a nude image being shared without consent is simply not to take that image in the first place. Which takes us back to our point of keeping devices out of bedrooms.
Taking a nude image involves preparation as well as obviously the removal of clothes. Children will take these images in their bedroom, but not in your lounge room. So simply not allowing devices in bedrooms can prevent your child from making a mistake they may well otherwise live to regret.
Keep Kids Safe Online The Easy Way
I’m not saying it’s easy to keep kids safe online; if it was simple then we wouldn’t have the problems we have today. It’s actually much harder than it seems and involves a lot of quality communication between you and your kids, as well as education. If you’d like to know more about how you can learn how to communicate more effectively with your children and learn what you need to know to truly keep them safe online, I invite you to join me on my next live webinar.
In the meantime, please have a chat with your children about why you don’t want them to use electronic devices in their bedroom. This alone may prevent a world of pain for you and your family.