Keeping kids protected in our wired world is one of society’s biggest challenges. But away from ominous headlines and scary stats, what are the issues we really need to focus on and how can parents and schools work together to tackle them?
ech addiction, cyber bullying, unsuitable material online… cyber safety can seem an overwhelming topic for parents, attracting more than its fair share of frightening stories and warnings.
With smartphones, instant messaging, tablets, social media, online gaming and more, today’s youth can have access to - and are accessible by - many millions of people worldwide. A daunting thought.
But technology is integral to everything we do - and a hugely important tool for learning. So how do you keep your children protected, while also allowing them to embrace tech and all the wonderful enhancements it brings?
Jamil Ezzo is Director General of ICDL Arabia, the regional branch of a global institution established to spread digital literacy around the world. He says, that while it might seem tempting to go down the ‘ban and restrict’ route to protect our youngsters, being open-minded is a more a viable option.
“You cannot make your children stay at home the whole time because you are scared of them getting into an accident or a fight,” Ezzo says. “It’s the same thing with technology. The internet is part of our everyday life. Without the internet, kids can’t learn as effectively or be competitive with other children. If you ban them from using technology you are basically removing a very important part of modern life.
“The way to deal with it is to be very educated as an adult. You need to be aware what the potential issues and threats are and pass on that knowledge to your children.”
That requires recognising existing issues and talking about them openly at all levels - within families, schools and at a governmental level.
“One of the major parts of combating a problem is to admit that there is a problem,” and it’s all within a safe environment.
“The vast majority of technology can be used to enhance learning but it’s important we know who is using it, how we can put