We’ve been talking about the importance of teaching kids internet safety for well over a decade now. However, as more and more smart phones and tablets and other portable devices enter our homes, a new concern has arrived. With kids online so much of the time, how do we keep them safe?
Dealing with Portable Devices
Many Vancouver moms love the ease and convenience of keeping kids entertained in long bank line-ups and on boring trips using a portable screen. However, before you can say Angry Birds a child can switch from playing that harmless game to working their way through YouTube. Thanks to the way it suggests new videos, it doesn’t take long for your kids to be watching something you’d rather they didn’t see. To get tips for parenting our kids online and keeping everyone safe, we connected with Shelly Smith, Director of Marketing for TELUS.
TELUS has partnered with MediaSmarts, a leading force for digital literacy in Canada, to create TELUS WISE. Shelly explains, “There are two elements to TELUS WISE. There’s face-to-face, where we go out wherever people want to congregate for the seminar. It’s a one-hour seminar, it’s highly interactive, and it’s really for adults. It’s not for kids.” After the seminar is over, the second part kicks in. “We provide access to the Telus WISE community. It’s a secure virtual community. We update it on a daily basis. There are lots of relevant articles, and we have courses online, as well as a discussion forum.”
Shelly says that parents themselves need to understand how we live in the digital world, and be conversant in its etiquette and social norms. “It’s knowing how to act and be safe in this digital environment.” Their materials start for parents of kids as young as four or five years old, and go all the way through the teen years. Things are changing quickly, so the site helps keep everyone up-to-date. “Parents feel, caregivers feel, and grandparents feel that there’s a chasm between themselves and their kids.” TELUS is working to bridge that chasm between parents and kids online.
In the past, the standard suggestion when it came to maintaining safety for kids online was to keep your computer in a central spot. However, the truth is that it’s no longer just about the computer. Shelly says, “One of the other ahas that parents have comes when we talk about all the internet connections they have in the home. Kids have video game systems in their room, those are internet connections. Using a smart phone as an alarm clock is a bad idea, kids are staying up and texting.” With more and more ways to connect to the internet, the game has changed.
Educate Yourself, Teach Your Kids Judgment
In the end, Shelly says that it comes down to educating yourself and teaching good judgment. Parents don’t have to teach their kids how to use the technology, they need to teach them how to make good decisions. We should also stay abreast of what’s happening, so that we can understand the world our kids live in. She explains, “What we have to do is teach ourselves to be smart and navigate with them, but also trust them to make good choices and use judgment.” It sounds like teaching our kids to navigate the internet isn’t so different than teaching them to navigate life.
At the moment, TELUS WISE is available to the company’s business customers and its employees. However, groups of parents can also inquire if they would like to take the course. For example, a PAC or similar group may be a good fit. To find out more about the program and how to take the course, go to www.telus.com/wise.
What about you? How do you keep your kids safe, online or on your smart phone? Leave a reply and share your tips!