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9 Tips for Internet Safety with Children

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By Mel Griffith, Curriculum Coordinator at Faith

Curiouser and Curiouser

Recently when reading a bedtime story to my five year old I had one of those ‘ah huh’ moments. We were reading Alice in Wonderland. I had always wondered what Lewis Carroll’s intention was when we wrote that nonsensical children’s story, a girl who chases a white rabbit into a fairy tale land, shrinks and grows on occasions, meets a queen and plays polo. What was he getting at? Who was he poking fun of?  

‘Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast,’ says the Queen of Hearts to Alice, it was at that moment it dawned on me; haven’t we all fallen into that trap or believing the unbelievable at least once while scrolling through the internet? Just the other day I saw a Facebook ‘short’ titled ‘Mermaid’ which showed a video of a real fish-tailed human on a wooden jetty struggling to roll back in the water. I was so glad that my five year old wasn’t witnessing the video. To the human eye it was real, it was as thought I was watching a mythical creature with my very own eyes, but my brain knew better. It was a hoax. The internet can be a very dangerous place, full of rabbit holes and bottles marked poison, with many Mad Hatters and Cheshire Cats offering their advice.

It is imperative we train our children to be ever vigilant and discerning as they access content.

Yet, we just can’t avoid it. We live in an increasingly digital age where banking, shopping, communication, even checking disaster warnings all require us to be ‘online’. It is imperative we train our children to be ever vigilant and discerning as they access content. It is believed around 55% of teenagers cannot tell the difference between real and fake news. Training our children to be media literate is going to be key to their success as adults in an unknown digital future.

Here are some practical ideas to help guide students to become more media literate.

How can we prepare our children to navigate Wonderland?

  1. Students need to identify the source of the information they are accessing. Who is making the claim, what is their track record?
  2. Check the claim being made by looking at other sources of information. Sometimes a well worded google search can shine light on unusual content of claims on the internet.
  3. Find the original claim. Often made up content is from a friend of a friend, who knows someone who… If you cannot identify the original source of the information the claim needs to be treated with caution.
  4. Search the internet using Safe Search modes that disarm pop-ups and clear browser histories. Purchasing a VPN might be another option.
  5. Measure every outlandish claim against the truth of the Bible. God’s word never fails, if what you are reading or hearing is in direct contradiction to a biblical fact, discard the claim immediately.
  6. Have open and honest conversations with your children, show them when and how you have made mistakes to encourage them to seek your assistance when they make mistakes, especially online.
  7. Pray for guidance when discussing difficult claims and content with your children. Try and let logic drive the conversation rather than emotion.
  8. Remember if you do not pay for the internet product, consider if you are the product.
  9. Consider the agenda, why would someone want to make this claim? Is it a trap?

‘We’re all mad here,’ – Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. This task is never going to be easy, when I stop and think about the future for my two children I can often be overwhelmed and fearful. But Praise God, he chose them to be born at this very moment (Acts 17:26) and to entrust them to me. My prayer for my family and yours is that we can raise our children to Achieve Through Christ, whatever their future may be.

‘I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.’ 3 John 1:4 

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