Expert view

Vicki Shotbolt

As CEO and Founder of The Parent Zone, Vicki Shotbolt helps companies and organisations to create parent-friendly initiatives. She serves on the board of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) and is a member of Vodafone’s Digital Parenting editorial team.

www.parentzone.org.uk

The tablet generation: How can we encourage young children to think about their safety online? 

Vicki Shotbolt, CEO and Founder of The Parent Zone, unveils a new resource from the Vodafone Foundation and Moshi Monsters to help parents start the all-important internet safety conversation.

Teaching children how to enjoy the internet safely and responsibly is often compared to road safety: a shared challenge that requires parents, schools, government and industry to work together to develop the right messages that will help children learn essential skills from an early age.

The trouble with this comparison is that helping younger children to understand the risks associated with the internet and teaching them how to avoid those risks is a whole lot harder than telling them to Stop, Look and Listen before they cross the road.

 

Did you know?
57% of four-year-olds in the UK use tablets and smartphones (Source: Vodafone/YouGov study, October 2013)

That’s why The Parent Zone has been working with the Vodafone Foundation and Moshi Monsters to develop an exciting new internet safety pack for four to 10-year-olds.

We’ve focused on five internet safety messages and presented them on a set of colourful cards featuring Katsuma, Poppet and other favourite pet Moshi Monsters. The goal is to help parents encourage good online safety habits as soon as (or even before) their son or daughter starts using the internet and to do it in a way that engages children and makes them think.

Download the Web Super Skills cards

Developed with help from the CEOP Command of the National Crime Agency and Professor Sonia Livingstone, Director of the EU Kids Online research programme, the ‘Web Super Skills’ cards are easy to understand and create an opportunity for parents to have a conversation with their children about how to behave online and what the rules are.

As Jonathan Baggaley, Head of Education at CEOP, comments: “We know from our ThinkUKnow training how important it is to teach children about staying safe online and letting someone know if they have a concern or feel at risk. The ‘Web Super Skills’ pack that Vodafone and Moshi Monsters have developed is a great way to reach children and their parents early on and instill good habits so that children grow up knowing how to stay safe online and enjoying all the great things the internet offers.”

The parents who were involved in developing the ‘Web Super Skills’ pack said that having some kind of guidance is really helpful and their children liked the cards and quickly got to grips with what the five messages (below) meant, even if they hadn’t come across them before.

The Web Super Skills challenge:

Be as nice to people online as you are offline

Keep your personal information personal – don’t share your address, school, photos, email addresses or passwords

Always talk to your parents about friends you meet online

Check with your parents before you download anything new

Talk to your Mum or Dad or another adult if you get stuck or if anything upsets or worries you online

 

If you’re wondering how you can help your children to enjoy the internet and keep them safe at the same time, you’re certainly not alone. Many parents find it a challenge. But with toddlers taking to touch screens like ducks to water and so many education and entertainment opportunities online, it’s vital that you take action early on. By setting boundaries and offering support from the moment they first log on, you can help your children to thrive in the digital world.

The ‘Web Super Skills’ pack, developed by the Vodafone Foundation and Moshi Monsters, is available for free in Vodafone stores or you can download it from the Vodafone website.

Infographic – How do young children use digital technologies?