While young people these days may be experiencing F.O.B.O. (fear of being offline) and F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out), many parents experience only F – fear. How do you stay up with everything your kids are doing online? Given many young people have somewhere on average between 20-30 apps their phone, when do you have time to learn about each app?

The good news is that knowing some basic tips and tools and talking to your kids about all of these things can help allay your concerns and help the young people in your life think about the things that they do, and, possibly, should do more of, to make sure they get the best out of being online.

Tuesday 10th February 2015 is Safer Internet Day, a global initiative that invites everyone – young people, parents, teachers, educators, industry and safety organisations to come together to focus on the key theme of what we can do to “create a better Internet together”. Facebook is proud to partner with Netsafe as part of local initiatives to create a better Internet together for New Zealanders.

As a parent myself, I feel that keeping kids safe online strikes at the core of what we are trying to do as parents – give our children the best possible future and helping to keep them safe. We help them navigate road safety, riding a bike and help them with their homework and schoolyard dramas all to give them the best start in life. Making sure that our young New Zealanders use the online platforms for information and learning, to express themselves, and engage positively with their peers is part of the modern day toolkit for life. But it can feel challenging to stay up with all of the new apps and technologies for those of us who didn’t grow up with it, the same way our children have.

Something as simple as having a conversation with your children about the apps and sites that they use can be a really effective way to learn more about what they are doing, what they value and enjoy, and to make sure that they have thought about the tools and strategies to ensure it’s a positive experience.

Keeping kids safe online

Here are five conversation starters that may work to kick things off:

  • Ask your children to show you what sites and apps they love to visit and why
  • See what their public profile looks like to others (check out the “View As” tool on their Facebook profile, more details here in our Help Centre: https://www.facebook.com/help/288066747875915) and talk about whether this is how they want others to see them
  • If your kids are happy to show you some things they have posted, talk through different ways other people may be able to use or reshare what they have posted and how they would feel about that
  • Ask them what tips and tricks they use to stay safe and avoid drama or unwanted content or messages
  • Ask them what they would do to get help if something went wrong

More good news is that there are lots of easy-to-use resources that are available for you and the young people in your life to refer to for more information about making the most out of being online.

There is the Facebook Safety Centre: https://www.facebook.com/safety and NetSafe’s website:http://www.netsafe.org.nz/ 

Instagram also recently partnered with NetSafe to launch a Parents’ Guide to Instagram; you can check it out here: http://www.netsafe.org.nz/a-parents-guide-to-instagram/

The theme for 2015 Safer Internet Day is “let’s create a better internet together” — let’s start the conversations today to make that happen.

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