Self-expression, creativity, collaboration – technology has lots of benefits. But with some kids and teens pushing boundaries and behaving differently online, it’s crucial that you talk to your child about how they conduct themselves in the digital world.

Faced with an ever-growing range of digital devices, websites and apps, young people generally use them in a positive and balanced way. But sometimes they might do something online that isn’t appropriate. Just as you help your son or daughter to manage and moderate their behaviour in other areas of their life, you need to guide them on their journey through the digital world. Here are some useful resources and a Take action checklist to help you do just that.

Screen time

Are you concerned that your son or daughter spends too long on their games console or never puts their phone down? You’re not alone. Many parents worry about getting the balance right when it comes to screen time and other activities. Find out more from:

Bullying

Whether it’s writing something hurtful on Facebook, sharing a mean video or ‘liking’ someone else’s nasty comments, it could be considered bullying – even if your child doesn’t realise it. Find out more from:

Costs

Children and teenagers might spend money on apps, games, premium numbers, downloads and online shopping without considering how the costs could mount up, especially if it seems like they are spending virtual currency or they think something is free. Find out more from:

Digital footprint

Everyone has a digital footprint of websites, comments and photos that friends, family, teachers, employers and even complete strangers might be able to see. Unfortunately, young people don’t always tread carefully when posting stuff online or consider how their digital footprint could affect their reputation now and in the future. Find out more from:

Downloading & copyright

Many young people go online for music, films, games and other entertainment but they could be breaking the law and in danger of security breaches if they don’t download or stream content from legitimate websites. Find out more from:

Sexting

Exchanging naked photos and videos is more common among adults than children but some young people do it as a way of flirting or for a laugh. It’s just part of growing up, they might say, but it could put them at risk of things like bullying and being contacted by strangers. Find out more from:

Challenges & dares

While some viral online challenges are harmless fun, others could result in injuries and embarrassment. Some young people enjoy taking part in dares in return for social media ‘likes’ but they might not understand the risks or they might feel under pressure from their peers. Find out more from:

Privacy & security

Your child might not consider why they shouldn’t give out personal information to people they don’t know or understand how to avoid viruses, malware and identity theft. They might even get involved in cybercrime themselves. Find out more from:

Theft

Smartphones and other devices are valuable – not only in terms of cost but also because of the personal information stored on them. With thousands of mobile phones stolen from teenagers each year, it’s important that your child knows how to keep their devices safe. Find out more from:

Take action

  • Talk to your child about how you expect them to behave online and agree some rules – this could include not being mean to other people, balancing time online with other hobbies and being careful about sharing personal information, photos and videos
  • Encourage them to let you know if they do something online that they think is wrong so that you can sort it out together
  • Make sure your son or daughter has a PIN on their devices and uses strong passwords on websites and apps
  • Explain that not everything online is free and decide whether you’d like to give them an allowance for things like downloading apps and games
  • Update the anti-virus software and firewall on your child’s computer and mobile devices

 

How does your child’s school teach digital literacy and skills? Find out about Vodafone’s Be Strong Online resources for schools, covering topics like ‘Coding & Creativity’ and ‘Digital Footprint’.