Online Safety – parents as partners

Parenting can be challenging and hard and the instruction manual we all crave does not exist. Parents have to rely on their gut, their friends, their own parents and upbringing to get support. 2020 has thrown us and our young people many hurdles. 

At Clonard we are acutely aware of the impact that COVID 19 and the recent deaths has had on families and our students. We write this to you to affirm that we are with you on this and want to work in partnership with you.

Our students are digital natives, they are constantly connected and don’t know of a time where mobile phones, iPads, social media and Netflix weren’t part of the norm. Technology itself is amazing and brings so much connection and knowledge and will be part of our world going forward.

However, it’s important to remember it is the user of the technology who creates the risks and dangers, not the technology itself. As you know like driving a car, like getting your first loan, like being able to vote young people need to be guided and supported to use the technology around them appropriately.  

In our Wellbeing roles, we regularly hear from parents asking for help. Their teenager is addicted to their phone, they feel enormous pressure to be online, they are using social media as the main way of communicating and connecting with friends – it is a common concern.  

Whilst technology and new apps are picked up with ease, tech-savvy skills should not be confused with real knowledge and skill-sets. This is where parents can help. Even if you do not understand Snapchat or Tik Tok, you can still assist them with your life experience, your maturity and your love.  

Your teenager’s brains are developing, they are growing. Unlike adults, they cannot thoroughly think through their online decision making.

They do not pause and reflect, they do not think about the consequences behind the hilarious Tik Tok that has just gong viral. That is the reality. This is where parents can help. We get it, many of us are parents with teenagers too. It can be a daily battle; it can be exhausting and it is hard to set firm boundaries (and stick to them). Connection to peers for a young person is everything. The trick and key here is balance and guidance. Cyberspace is exciting but also can expose our young people to online bullying, sexting, grooming, inappropriate and age-inappropriate content, identity fraud etc.  

So what do you need to talk to your daughter about?

  1. Using technology is a responsibility not a right
  2. You are not anonymous online
  3. Deleting your content is not possible
  4. Digital footprints and reputations matter
  5. Good old-fashioned manners apply online also
  6. Have good passwords & privacy
  7. Anyone could be online – you don’t know who you are chatting to
  8. Laws apply & can be broken

By far the biggest question we get is how to set rules/boundaries around screen time at home. Start this early. Clear expectations and safety rules need to be discussed and agreed to. An online agreement for the whole family is helpful. We too need to model screen time balance.  

Some tips and ideas (adapted from Susan McLean and esafety website).

  • No mobiles in bedrooms
  • Turn all screens off at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Agree to online rules and screen time as a family
  • Plot a weekly schedule – factor in screen time – Remember the advice for teenagers is no more than 2 hours per day (not including homework etc).
  • Add a family TV show to the routine – easy for teens to slip into their rooms and not be part of the evening routine.
  • They need to move and get outside – sport, exercise, walking the dog is important for their mental health.
  • Adhere to warnings and age restrictions on apps
  • Discuss that not all families will have the same rules and boundaries and that we are setting these because we love you and care for you.

In our current climate, I urge all families to stop and focus on this important issue. There are so many great resources out there – please click here for more information.

The world has changed forever. Remote learning has presented us with questions and challenges about the use of technology in learning. Now more than ever our young people need to learn how to use technology appropriately and this will require Clonard and parents working together to make this happen. 

We have an explicit curriculum that supports these important messages but is only successful if we work together. We need you to work with us to keep your daughter safe.

Best wishes,
Kylie Power –
Assistant Principal (Wellbeing)