E-Parenting: not an easy task

Global Parents' Day, held annually on 1 June since 2012, is a day proclaimed by the United Nations (UN) to honour parents. Today we want to celebrate parents working hard to keep their children safe online and aiming to empower their children to be resilient users of technology. Because it's not always an easy task…

Young people, and even the youngest children, now live in a connected world that provides them with a lot of opportunities, but also presents some risks. News travels fast, especially online, and with real-life situations occurring such as the recent attacks in Manchester on a concert hall where an idol for many young people was performing, children and young people may well come across disturbing content and images online. How can you, as a parent, talk about such content with your kids? Should you limit all access to social networks to prevent them from coming across harmful content?

Often parents are well aware of the risks, but find it difficult to deal with them. It can be very hard to strike the balance between access to tools and information and protection from specific content. How that balance is built up also differs by age and maturity of the young person: both a toddler with Facebook and a teenager that is only allowed to play Dora the Explorer games doesn't seem a healthy combination. Moreover, most parents have their own approach to parenting and each child has his or her own needs and expectations.

One of the key parenting approaches for keeping children and young people safe online is to have regular open and honest conversations about their online lives, working together to define boundaries for use, and developing strategies together for what they do if they encounter problems online. Luckily the Insafe network of Safer Internet Centres (SICs) in Europe provides a whole range of resources to assist parents to have these conversations, both in English and national languages, and for different age groups. The resources can help parents deal with conflicts about technologies in the house, provide fun quizzes for parents to self-assess how tech-savvy they are, and even have practical written guides and YouTube channels for parents to help their children have a positive online experience (there is much more to explore in the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) Resource gallery too). And in case that you should encounter harmful or illegal content online, INHOPE (the International Association of Internet Hotlines) works with police forces across the globe to get it removed. (By the way, did you see this funny commercial from the Lithuanian hotline yet?)

Parents, we've got you covered. Keep up the good work!

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