Well I could have made a difference, I had something to say, but instead I chose to look the other way. It’s not that I just don’t care, I just don’t want anybody to think that I live in fear. I don’t want to be some old fool, always arguing about some safety rule. After all, I trust them, chances are nothing will happen, so why complicate things with a silly question? I’ll just take a chance and close my eye and with that, maybe just let them die…
Please remember, if you know a risk your children might take, one that’s going to put their well-being or even their life at stake, the question to ask, that thing you do or say, might just help them get through and live to see another day
May I ask you a question, what do we mean by safety?
Let’s break this down and begin by saying that everyone has a need not just to “feel” safe but actually, to be safe. So let’s be straight, safety is not a feeling, it a state of being. You’re either safe or you’re not, so can you, hands on heart, say that your children are safe on the internet?
The thing about safety is that it is a condition, the condition of being protected. So if your children are not protected, neither by you, by themselves nor by some other third party, then they are not safe. It’s as simple as that, we can’t just assume they are safe because we think or feel they are.
Have you ever seriously thought about the risks your children face every time they take a surf-ride across the WWW on one of those electronic devices they are so fond of and which you so readily put in their hands? Well actually first, have you even thought about what devices they can use to access the internet? Here is a list of the Top Ten devices children use to surf the internet:
- android phone
- Smart TV
- e-book readers like Kindle
- smart wristwatch
- smart cameras
The first thing you have to do is stop thinking traditional devices, young people don’t just use desktops or laptops anymore to go on the internet. The next thing is, once you see SMART, then it is probably internet ready. The following is a link to an interesting, easy-to-read article, worth reading to familiarise yourself with some of the issues now being raised globally:
It could be that our lack of urgency concerning internet safety comes from a general lack of urgency when it comes to safety. So let me tell you a sad but true little story. Going back to my early years in teaching there was a young pupil, probably around age 13 – 14 if my memory serves me well. Let’s just call him pupil A. Well, pupil A was a bit of a troublesome lad, more mischievous than anything else really but a handful of trouble for anyone who didn’t know how to handle him. One tragic week-end, Pupil A and a group of other youngsters wondered on to a building site where he had this brain-wave to frighten his peers. Letting one chosen buddy into the trick he was about to play on his friends, he would run off, find a piece of rope, measure it’s length so as to be “safe” and when his buddy guided the group of friends round to where he was, he would jump from a box as if he was about to hang himself.
Everything went according to plan and having carefully measured his rope, Pupil A jumped. Unfortunately in measuring, he hadn’t properly taken into account the amount of rope he would need to loop the rope and tie the knot and sadly, with a shortened rope, the youngster hung himself.
Why am I telling you this true story? Well for weeks this haunted me. I wondered if anyone had ever spoken to those lads about the dangers of playing on a building site. Wondered if long lengths of rope like this should have been left hanging around (pun intended), wondered why his friends hadn’t intervened when they saw him struggling at the end of the rope? Apart from the shock, would they even have known what to do? Wondered if anyone at all had ever spoken to them about safety or given any kind of training or guidelines on general safety issues. Now all of a sudden we want to tell them about safety on the internet.
Ok I know times have changed, but I believe that in the absence of a dialogue about offline safety, where the hazards are far more concrete, it is almost pointless talking to those same young people about internet safety. For example, if a child didn’t understand anything about offline bullying, would they still be able to have any real understanding of the less tangible but equally frightening reality of cyber-bullying?
Let’s just sum up some of the safety issues we have covered in the course of this meal. While sipping our aperitifs, the poem had a few early pointers .
- We cannot afford to ignore potential dangers. Don’t just look the other way
- Don’t be afraid to set some rules and not worry about looking foolish. You know how the saying goes, better safe than sorry
- Don’t leave things to chance, ask questions and make sure you get the right answers
Nibbling at the hors d’oeuvre, we should understand that while we may feel our children are safe, we have to ask ourselves are they really safe? We also found that there are numerous ways of accessing the internet, not just devices like the old traditional desktop. Even laptops now, unless brand new state of the art, are pretty much old technology.
The main course about Pupil A served to highlight the need for a root and branch approach to general safety if internet safety is to mean anything.
Now as we enjoy a well earned coffee, grab a pencil and paper and in between sips, make yourself a list of all the devices at home from which the internet can be accessed. Here is the Top-Ten-Tips for the 10 most likely electronic devices used for accessing the internet.
The thing to remember is if it says “Smart” or “Android”, then this usually means it is internet-friendly.
Having made your list of home-based devices, highlight the ones your children can access in private, away from your prying eyes. These are the danger areas, ask yourself, do you know what each of those devices are being used for? What general safety rules have you made in your home, including those for the use of those electronic devices? If you don’t like the answers you come up with, maybe it is time for a bit of soul-searching and a frank family discussion about safety!
Hope you enjoyed your meal, see you next time. And be cool, stay safe!