How to keep kids safe online

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Father and son using digital table on floor at home
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An expert in how young people interact with the internet and video games will deliver the first talk in The West Australian ECU Lecture Series.

ECU Professor of Communications Lelia Green will speak on the topic Kids, video games and social networks – the internet in family life.

Professor Green’s lecture will include strategies and practices that parents and children have found helpful in managing each other’s expectations.

Positives for older children

Professor Green said parents should consider the benefits for older kids in interacting online, including building social groups and gaining and giving support along with developing skills like communication and negotiation.

“Simply barring or restricting access locks kids out of their social circle,” she said.

Younger children

Professor Green said research has shown that many parents are influenced by media scare campaigns around children’s internet use.

“They start off being quite strict but as they get to know how their children use the internet and begin to trust their judgement, there’s more negotiation,” Professor Green said.

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“Parents also discover that the negatives tend to be less bad than they thought and the positives are more than they imagined.”

Aussie parents better than most

For the past decade Professor Green has also worked in collaboration with the EU Kids Online network, which is predominantly funded by the European Commission and now involves 33 European nations.

Professor Green said EU Kids Online research has found that Australian parents are generally very good at keeping their children safe online.

“Australian parents prefer to negotiate with their kids, rather than delivering an edict or being too strict,” she said.

“Aussie kids are quite reasonable and will model their parents’ behaviour. However, the number one rule for parents is never ask your kids to do something you wouldn’t be prepared to do yourself.”

That means if parents have a ‘no devices before bedtime’ rule for their children, they themselves shouldn’t use a tablet or e-reader before going to bed.

Professor Green’s work around the internet in Australian family life has been supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) since 2002.

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She has received three ARC Discovery grants in this area: the internet in family life; parent or peers; and, most recently, toddlers and touchscreens.

Kids, video games and social networks – the internet in family life lecture on Wednesday, 10 June is the first in The West Australian ECU Lecture Series which will provide a forum for an ECU Professor to discuss a pressing issue facing our community, outline their research in the area and engage in discussion with colleagues and the public.

Registration is free and open to the community via EventBrite  (places limited). Registration closes Friday, 5 June.

(Source: Edith Cowan University)

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Date Created: June 2, 2015