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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Keeping Your Child Safe Online


Guest post by Geoff Taylor, the Head of Young Learners at the British Council in Malaysia

Under the MCO, Malaysian children are spending more time online. This is generally for good reasons  such as attending distance learning classes or virtual playdates with friends. We are all scrolling through social media or browsing the internet more and this is fine. However, children may not be aware of the dangers of spending time online. The British Council categorizes digital risks in three ways:

1. Content risk: 
While the internet is an incredibly useful tool, we all know that there are many sites that we do not want children to visit. Whether it is violence or explicit content, hate speech or self-harm, there is plenty that we do not want our children to see.

2. Conduct risk: 
It is unfortunate that when some people are online, they forget how to behave. Bullying, harassment and other upsetting behaviours are surprisingly common, and again, we do not want our children to suffer from these things.

3. Contact risk: 
Some people have bad intentions toward children. The internet provides them with an anonymous way to meet and befriend kids. It is a sad fact that global lockdowns have seen an increase in the activities of online predators in every country.

So, what can we do to keep our children safe online? There are a few simple steps to increase our peace of mind:

-  Keep the laptop or iPad in common areas where everyone can easily see what is going on. Avoid  younger kids using computers or electronic devices alone in their bedrooms.

- Ensure your kids know how to find their favourite sites easily so they don’t stumble across  inappropriate content. Bookmarking these sites will help.

- Set all parental controls and other safety features to the strictest settings. If you do not now how to do this, it is simple to Google the procedure.

- Check the browser history if you are concerned about your child’s online activity. A friend of mine  recently noticed that her 8-year-old daughter had spent a very pleasant day watching YouTube videos when she should have been attending her school’s distance learning and extra tuition classes.

The most effective thing we can do is to talk to our children about online safety and explain why it is  important. If we can negotiate some family rules this will help us. Aim for something like this:

- Never respond to a post, message, email etc. that is not nice.

- Don’t use your full name as your screen name.

- Never reveal any personal information, such as your address, phone number or even the school you  attend. Never post any personal pictures and do not trade pictures with someone you meet online.

- Never share passwords, except with your parents.

While we should trust our children and we do not want to ‘over police’ them, warning signs such as your child quickly shutting down the computer or trying to hide what they are doing when you walk into the room could suggest something is wrong. Likewise, if your child is suddenly reluctant to talk about what they have been up to online it may indicate a problem.

At the British Council we take online safety very seriously. We have measures in place to protect the  security of our online classes and regularly teach children about staying safe online. While distance  learning may never be popular with some parents, with some awareness of the dangers and a few  simple precautionary measures in place, we can be sure they will not come to harm while sitting at  the kitchen table taking an English class.

Learn more about the online safety measures taken by the British Council by contacting our course  consultants today 

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