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Parenting - Introducing Your Child To The Internet

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Today, Simon Grehan, an internet safety coordinator with the National Centre for Technology in Education will talk about the safe way to introduce your child to the internet.

The Internet Safety initiative, Webwise conducted a survey in 1996 and found that one quarter of the 800 children surveyed were younger than 9 when they first started to use the internet,  56% used the Internet before they were 11 years old and 83% before they were 13.

Overall, 98% of young people in Ireland use the internet. 44% are online everyday.

While the internet is an amazing educational tool and our children are lucky to be able to avail of so many wonderful sources of information at the touch of a mouse, it also leaves our offspring open to the many dangers of the internet world.

We cannot underestimate the importance of having the tools to educate our children on how to stay safe online.

Simon Grehan, Internet Safety Coordinator
Simon Grehan is the Internet Safety Coordinator at the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE). He is actively involved in researching children's use of the Internet, tracking emerging technologies, and raising awareness of the risks associated with their use. In the past year he published research on Irish Children's Online Risk Behaviour and how Irish children Use of Social Networking Websites.

Simon is responsible for Webwise, the Internet Safety initiative involving the NCTE, The National Parents Council, and Childline. This initiative provides advice, support, and tools to teachers, parents, and children to promote safer use of the Internet in Ireland.

The NCTE is the Irish internet safety awareness node of the EU Information Society's safer internet network. It also represents the Department of Education on the Internet Advisory Board in Ireland. In partnership with Childline and the National Parents Council Primary, they operate a 24x7 Internet safety helpline for children and provide a panel of experts to parents associations and schools across the country to deliver information seminars and training to parents.

At what age do children generally start to use the internet?
Webwise conducted a survey in 1996 and found that one quarter of the 800 children surveyed were younger than 9 when they first started to use the internet,  56% used the Internet before they were 11 years old and 83% before they were 13.

Where do they begin to use the internet?
The same survey found that, the younger children are to a larger degree introduced to the Internet at home. In fact 60% of children will use the internet for the first time at home, 22% at school, 7% with friends, 2% in an internet café, 6% in other places. (The other 3% didn't know).

What are the dangers of the internet?
Not everyone online has good intentions. Your child is free to come across inappropriate content such as pornography, racism, violent material. They may also come across computer viruses, spam e-mail and social-networking sites.

How can we as parents protect our children from these dangers?
Parents need to be educated on the correct and safe way to introduce their children to the internet. Research has found that young people are primarily going online to make friends, play games, download music and do their homework. As parents, the most important thing you can do is to engage with their digital lifestyle.

What is a safe way to introduce your child to the internet?

Simon has the following 5 point plan:

1) Discover the internet together. If you are the one to introduce your child to the internet, this will generally make sharing both positive and negative experiences in the future easier.

2) Educate yourself. It's important to understand how your child uses the internet. Educate yourself so that you can educate your child. (Simon will talk about how you can do this later.)

3) Agree on Internet Rules. Try to reach an agreement with your child on how long they will spend online and on what activities and type of sites are ok to use.

4) Talk about the risks of meeting friends online. It's perfectly okay to spark up friendships online and it's very common. However, you should only ever physically meet up with these people in the company of an adult.

5) Don't be too critical towards your child's exploration. The internet is an excellent educational and recreational tool for your child. Remember, it is not always your child's fault if they come across inappropriate material on the internet. Encourage your child to explore the internet to its full potential but to do it wisely.


For More Information
www.webwise.ie



 

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