How to keep kids netsafe

While technology is a part of everyday life, there can be some very real dangers associated with it. We look at how to keep your kids netsafe.
Netsafe kids

Technology has become an everyday part of life. It can be easy to forget that children don’t know a life without it! However, there are some real dangers associated with technology. Not only the time teens are spending online, but the content they are accessing. Sexting is becoming the new norm for teenagers, whose first experience with sex may now be online. We look at how you can you stop your teen from doing it with some tips to help keep your kids netsafe.

At home…

  • Have a digital detox period once a day (ideally an hour, but even just 10 minutes). Put your phones away, turn off the wifi, unplug the television.

  • Let rest be rest. Make their bedroom a place of emotional safety, not one of possible threat, where the adrenalin-spiking internet could invade at any point. Laptops and phones should not be on and connected in the run-up to sleep.

  • Try to schedule a five to 10-minute one-on-one conversation daily with each child. Sit face to face and give them the opportunity to connect with you. Ignore every interruption. Never break off your conversation to talk to another child, answer a phone or read an email.

  • When they feel connected through conversation, hug your children (ask them first). Let them know what it is like to feel another human being’s body close to them while their nervous system is in a state of rest.

  • Let your child know what it is you appreciate about your own partner. It is easy to be negative, but they need a template of positive connection that does not revolve around sexual exploitation.

And out…

  • Get into a ‘ping-free’ zone. Go out for a casual meal with your teenager and agree to leave all electronic devices at home. The anxiety of a missed message will soon fade. This will allow for unbroken face-to-face human contact.

  • Hold eye contact. With younger children, get down to their level so they can comfortably look at your face. Reading your facial expressions helps to stimulate their ventral vagal nerve, which runs down the front of the body to the heart and chest and calms the nervous system, triggering the brain’s social-engagement system.

  • In a restaurant or public place, let them sit in the corner with no people behind them. This reduces the nervous system’s perception of threat triggered in their primal mammal brain (it works in classrooms too) and will help them to connect, listen, think and relate.

  • Reduce any background music/noise, particularly anything with heavy bass, when talking to your teen. The frequencies of a woman’s voice are most connected to triggering social engagement, and without background noise will provide stronger stimulus. The same principle will work for fathers, too, only less strongly.

  • Listen to your teen, don’t just talk at them. Also try not to rush their conversation – the more they talk, the longer their exhalations are. Longer out-breaths (compared with in-breaths) will trigger their ventral vagal nerve, calming them down and stimulating their social-engagement system.

From the editors of Next

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