Online safety / October 17, 2022

Teaching kids the basics of online safety

Stacey Ponich

Senior Program Manager | TELUS Wise ambassador

A father and two kids play with smartphones together on the couch.

Most of us are confident in teaching our kids how to stay safe and well in our physical world - how to safely cross the street, not to talk to strangers and so on - but the online world can be different. A recent global study found that 90% of parents recognize their role as protectors online, but there are gaps between the intention to keep kids safe and efforts made by parents to do so. It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to teaching kids the basics of online safety.

As we enter fall and settle back into our regular routines - back-to-school and back-to-work - we wanted to offer parents and guardians some quick and easy tips on how to help school aged kids and youth navigate the online world safely.

As a proud TELUS Wise ambassador I was happy to connect with Tina Singh, digital content creator, occupational therapist and mother of three, and Taylor Hui, philanthropist and founder of the BeaYOUtiful Foundation, and share our collective experiences when it comes to helping youth navigate our digital world.

Tune in to the full conversation here or check out some key takeaways below.

Key takeaways for parents:

  1. Screentime: Set (and stick to) screen time limits, establish certain places in your home as no-screen zones, and model good media use yourself. Consider taking the “How healthy is your relationship with technology” quiz - it’ll provide insight into your screen time habits and can be a great way to kick off a conversation about healthy screen use.
  2. Social media: Social media has the ability to largely distort our expectations of “real life”. If your kids are using social media, monitor who they follow and remind them that the picture perfect posts aren’t a representation of reality. Encourage them to follow profiles of people who share authentic and uplifting content.
  3. Wellbeing: Our digital world, including the pressures of social media, has the ability to impact our mental health and wellbeing (research shows that 7 in 10 girls today feel like they don’t “measure up” in some way). It’s important to educate youth on media literacy and how our media consumption can impact us. The TELUS Wise Happiness workshop is a great way to learn some tips on building and maintaining a healthy relationship with technology.
  4. Privacy: Posting every detail about your life can make it easier for you to have your identity stolen, and even the answers to some social media quizzes can reveal personal and private information about you. Remind your kids to think before they post, keep social media and other accounts private, and only follow or add friends online who they know face-to-face in real life.
  5. Cyberbullying: If your kids experience cyberbullying, always take it seriously and listen with understanding. The best course of action for kids is to “Stop, Block, Record and Talk” (stop engaging in the conversation, block the person, record and save the evidence, and talk to someone - a parent, teacher, trusted adult). It’s also important to encourage kids to speak up if they witness cruel behaviour online and check in with their peers or a trusted adult if they experience cyberbullying.
  6. Sexting: Many parents may be surprised to learn that 56% of youth today aged 12-18 have sent a sext (a nude or intimate image/video or sexually explicit content). Just like the other critical and sometimes uncomfortable conversations we have as parents, we need to begin a dialogue around this trend, respect and healthy relationships, consent and peer pressure, and overall safety when it comes to taking and sending intimate images. Check out this TELUS Wise article for tips on how to get the conversation started.

For more tips and information on how to help your kids have a positive experience online, check out the TELUS Wise parents guide, Helping our kids navigate our digital world.

Kids & tech
Screen time
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