Society needs to act on internet safety
INTERNET SAFETY for children will only be increased by a ‘whole society response’, the author of a new book on the subject claims.
It’s not just for the government, who can only do so much, to act, argues Dr Bex Lewis, in response to the comments made by the Coroner of the inquiry into the death of Tallulah Wilson.
Coroner Hassel says the Coalition needs to do more to improve internet safety after the 15-yearold’s suicide.
But Dr Lewis, who runs internet workshops and has written her advice for parents, teachers and youth leaders in Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the best, avoiding the worst, says it’s about teaching children to use the internet safely, while discussing any negative images and sites they may stumble across.
“I don’t think people can sit back and expect the government to do it all,” she said.
“Schools need to do something, parents need to do something, youth leaders need to do something.”
The more confident parents are with using the internet, the more confident their children are, research shows.
Unless strong parental locks are set on computers, children who use Google to research innocent things, like Big Ben, are being
directed to porn sites.
Just as they would ask how their child got on at school, parents should be asking what they have seen on the internet and whether anything has upset them, so any negative images can be discussed and explained.
“You need to have these conversations before you have the sex education conversation,” she advises. “Introduce it early as part of your everyday conversations.”
Dr Lewis’s book is based on the results of a survey she conducted with 120 parents, after learning the last book on this subject was written in 2011, but a lot has changed since then.
“It’s like swimming: you wouldn’t chuck a child in a swimming pool and leave them to it, so why would you do it with the internet?”
This isn’t a parenting book, though, she promises.
Raising Children in a Digital Age is out now. Dr Bex Lewis will be writing a feature for The Church of England Newspaper in March to help youth leaders navigate the issue of internet safety.