I’m not going to lie, we are a household of gadget lovers. We use the internet for working, household organisation, shopping and as a hobby. My children have grown up around me using the computer a lot, and so naturally they are going to want to join in on this.
I mean I even met my husband on the internet 15yrs ago before the word ‘internet dating’ even came out, and dating sites weren’t even made! So without it, life for us would have been very different. However my kids also love to get outdoors, we love exploring new places together and spending time together. So don’t think we are all stuck with our faces against the screen all weekend together!
This means though we need to teach our kids internet safety, how to use it properly, respect it, and learn how to stay safe. There are some good articles around, including these ones on AO.com which talk about internet safety.
*Tyler using the Acer Iconia Tablet
I wanted to chat to you about a situation we experienced this year with my son. I am not ashamed to talk about it, and my son is happy I tell you about it, as we both want people to understand things like this can happen to anyone, not matter how savvy you are with the internet.
My son is 13 years old, and computers are a big part of his life. He wants to be a computer programmer as his job, and is very set on what path he wants to take. He is very bright and is doing very well at school, the teachers have been struggling to set him work hard enough in his computer lessons as he finds it all too easy. He is very computer savvy, and enjoys both the systems and playing games too. He recently started to create live streams of his gaming for people to follow, and watch him talking about the game. He can chat to the people watching as he is playing the games. We have always been very open to him about the dangers of the internet, and to talk to us about anything he is unsure about.
So one day a few months back he came up to me and said
Hey Mum, there’s someone really nice who is helping me out with a game that I was stuck on
To which I replied to him and said yes that is very nice, but please be aware and talk to me if you not happy about anything, or unsure about them.
So a couple of days later, Tyler came back up to me and said,
Mum, I mentioned in my live stream that it was my birthday soon. Then this person who was helping me, has sent me a free game through my Steam account as a birthday gift. I said to him ‘Thanks for sending me the game, you shouldn’t have done that’.
Then this was said to Tyler,
That’s OK cutie
To which Tyler was not happy about straight away and replied back to tell him not to call me cutie, and it was inappropriate. The person then said to Tyler along the lines of
Oh I am sorry if I upset you by calling you cutie. I know you’re probably not interested as I am a man and older than you, but I do think your cute.
Tyler knew straight away that this wasn’t acceptable to be calling him cutie, and then he got that message back he knew straight away that he should stop talking to this person. This man knew he was older than Tyler, and he was man but he still pushed it when Tyler had said don’t call me that.
Tyler came to me straight away and talked to me about this. At every stage he wasn’t sure he asked me, I kept the conversation open and honest with him and tried to allow him to think about it and what wasn’t acceptable. Instead of flying off the handle, and causing a big scene that next time could scare Tyler off from talking to me about it.
Knowledge is very powerful
As we have spoken to Tyler about it in the past he said to me after this happened.
I now realise that what you have spoken to me about in the past and you that you weren’t just being protective of me, that it can actually happen and there are some weird people out there.
I was so proud of Tyler and how it handled the situation. We got the person blocked, and removed from anything to do Tyler. We also reported this to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre who were fantastic. They have a form that you can fill in with any details of the situation, but also the children can report things if they need to do it privately.
They replied back quickly to me, and assured me that Tyler had done a fantastic job in talking to me and to keep that up with him. They also gave us some numbers to call if Tyler wanted to talk to anyone about what had happened. There are some great sites like Think You Know that help you talk to your children about it, or websites for the kids to look at to help them understand it.
I wish I could wrap my kids up and protect them from everything, however you can’t, you have to let them grow up, and the best thing you can do is to teach them how to handle experiences and talk to you. Please do keep talking to them about kids internet safety, no matter how hard it is be honest and open with them.