If you have a child under 16 with a smart phone (or any other device that goes online) you should be checking it on a regular basis...
Isn't that an invasion of their privacy?
Yes! But when it comes to kids online - you need to make it clear that their privacy has significant limitations - and here's why...
- More than a third of children (as young as 8) have used their full name, a photo in their school uniform, or their phone number and address when chatting, playing and posting online.
- 1 in 3 high school students are actively online between 10pm and midnight (mostly unsupervised).
- Many online kids game sites (such as Roblox) enable chatting and messaging between the players, however, the child has no way to know who is actually talking to them. Unfortunately, there are people out there who are very skilled at getting identifying information out of children and they often use kids gamming sites to make contact.
- Letting kids post photos that identify their home or school is unwise. People have used such details to track kids down and then talk and act like they know them.
Detective Inspector John Rowse, the head of Task Force Argus (a specialist online sex offender squad) believes children do not have a right to privacy when it comes to online devices and what they are sharing and receiving on them.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph yesterday he said "You as a parent should be monitoring everything they are doing. Go through their phone, check what they are doing and posting and if they have a social media friend who you haven't personally met in real life, then de-friend that person for your child."
Quick question: Do you personally know every one of your child's online "friends"?
Most parents don't...
So how do we go about checking-up on our kids?
1. Create a contract between you and them that explains the conditions for having the device. Include things such as your right to have the passcode and to check it. Also stipulate they are not to delete what they do and see online (if the online history is always deleted I would be very suspicious).
2. When you do check the device - do it with them so they can explain who people are and where they met them. Discuss the sites accessed and what they are doing online.
3. Install a parental control application on every device so you can control what sites are accessible and see exactly what they are doing. A good resource is the Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner (esafety.gov.au).
[John Blythe Child Psychology is located at Blacktown, Hornsby and Macarthur 02 9622 9610]