How do you keep them safe?
Discussion on child safety in this day and age from stranger danger to technology
So in this day and age there are sooo many things to think about to try and protect your children from and and inform them about so they are aware. From the standard just crossing the street and being careful with sharp knifes and not running with scissors to stranger danger, bullying and cyber safety.
When I was younger it seemed like there was so much less to worry about. You didn’t get in the car with, talk to or go anywhere with strangers. But unless it was the same and it just wasn’t as well publicised or reported – today seems like a lot more things we need to be teaching our children. Every other day you hear about a child being attacked or nearly attacked and most of the time it is sexually. So how do you go about trying to protect and educate your kids without freaking them out totally and making them scared someone is going to ‘take’ or ‘hurt’ them?????
So as kids do, my daughter (Miss S who is 6) gets scared about watching ‘baddies’ on TV but then I am always telling her to be careful when we are in the shopping centre and don’t stray or run away from me and don’t talk to strangers. A few times she has said “I have to be careful or someone might take me” and lately we have to tell her nothing bad is going to happen to her every night. Now the mummy guilt kicks in that I’ve frightened her but I also think she needs to be aware that the world isn’t fully of unicorns and rainbows but how far do you go?
I would say I am probably a more cautious and over-protective parent than your average parent as my mother was before me. In our house, we have an open door theory (bedrooms etc) and encourage frank open discussion about whatever questions the kids ask. This is about everything from why do we eat oranges to where do babies come from. Even with all of the above, I know my daughter is confident and I have seen her talk to complete strangers. A few weeks ago, there was a report of someone approaching a child at the school. Seriously how scary is that? But what can you do? You cannot lock them away from people altogether so we have had further discussions about what to do if someone approaches and that you “NO, GO, TELL” which has been around for ages but I don’t think you can remind them enough.
However, it does not stop there – every kid has access to at least one device that has access to the Internet as well as Netflix or some other streaming media and you can’t be there all the time. Yes, there are parental controls and special apps that will reduce inappropriate content, however you do need to configure them and keep them up to date. Alas, it seems that inappropriate content still creeps through. Alarmingly there are now reports of young boys thinking that porn is way that normal loving people have sex and the psychological and physical damage that that is causing both parties is almost too much for my parenting brain to think about. Nevertheless, as a parent I feel we need to step up and try and change this perception and we have a moral obligation to educate our children on these topics and not rely on the internet or some video to do it for us. The message does not seem to be getting through.
Apart from the issue of inappropriate content seeping thought and permeating our children’s brains there is also the issue of bullying? There are so many frightening statistics of the number of children and young adults that are constantly bullied 24/7. When I was a teenager, prior to so much technology (yes I am that old), when you left school for the day – that was it – you could switch off and not have anyone being nasty to you. With access to 24/7 social media it seems relentless and there is no escape from people who want to bully others. Even if it is, just a subset of keyboard warriors instead of the other kids you child associates with on a daily basis.
Let me ask you – do you know what your child is doing on their phone or device? Do you connected with them on social media? Do you know who their friends are on Snapchat and Tinder? Gone are the days that you can say ‘Oh that is what all the kids are looking at nowadays’ – we, as parents, need to be involved.
What do we do?
I have raised a lot of questions and points here and I am by no means any sort of expert I am just a mother trying to equip her children for the current and future world and keep them safe. For me I think and open dialogue and ensuring your kids feel comfortable in telling you what is happening or what they are concerned about are the best steps to bring the discussion out into the open. I think we should be on all the social media platforms our children are on so we can see the content and know how they work! I also am an avid believer that kids should not be hidden away in another room with their device, they should be out in the family room with everyone else that way you can see their expressions and keep having a sly look at the screen as well as engage them in conversation to find out what they are doing.
These things have been on my mind for some time, hence I thought I would write them down. Feel free to share in the comments about how you protect your children and your philosophies on the points I have mentioned. Be kind though as my mother always said treat others as you would like to be treated.
Here are also some articles I found when I searched for tips on keeping them safe:
- Internet Safety for Kids
- Keeping your Children Safe on the Internet
- How to Make Sure your Child Safe in 7 Steps
- 25 Tips to Keep Kids Safe from Abductors
Hope you found this article thought provoking if nothing else – thanks for reading.
A concerned parent doing their best.