With technology taking over most households, the Association of Communities Against Abuse (ACAA) hosted a workshop at the Heartland Youth Centre (HYC) regarding internet safety, particularly geared towards kids of young age.
Presented by program director, Stephanie Hadley, the workshop was attended by parents and adults from the community.
“For kids of grades one to four, some suggested rules would be to limit the amount of ‘screen time’ each day, use passwords to allow access to wireless or game downloads, keep computer and device use in a public part of your home, and turn off devices a minimum of one hour before bedtime,” Hadley said.
According to Hadley, parents are a critical part of their child’s safety when going online, and from a very early age they should start a conversation about how to safely and responsibly spend time online.
“Part of this is by modelling good practices themselves, and looking at websites, games and other activities with children to learn more about what they are doing, while sharing suggestions about how to be safe and how to spot risks,” Hadley explained. “Limiting screen time for young children is especially important, as research shows it can have a detrimental effect on the developing brain and does not really offer any benefits to learning or development.”
With the risk of cyber bullying on the rise, the workshop addressed some of the ways in which they can be mitigated.
“There is a high incidence of bullying and harassment happening in most online platforms, along with unlawful sharing of images, sexting and a very early introduction to pornography,” Hadley commented. “These issues can be reduced when parents take an interest in what children are doing online, have open conversations with them about safety and respect, and most importantly, make themselves available to children if and when they have a problem.”
Young people need to know that adults are available to help them with these difficult issues, Hadley said, and as parents, educators, community members, people must work together to help educate and support each other so that they can work together to ensure safety for their children.
“At ACAA, we are working hard to stay informed about current trends, laws, and resources around online use that affect our children, so that we can continue to offer workshops and other services that support child safety,” Hadley commented. “Parent information sessions, workshops and other resources are available from ACAA at no cost, please contact our office for more information.”