By Ludi Wiggins
When it comes to technology, many parents can feel out of their depth when addressing internet safety – and it's not hard to see why.
From violent videos to online grooming, the risks seem to grow as technology becomes a part of everyday life, leaving many parents feeling completely overwhelmed.
The good news is, there are simple and effective ways parents can keep on top of online safety when it comes to protecting their children.
1. Set easy to follow rules
Parents need to remember that most kids don't fully understand the problem of screen addiction, with the average child receiving their first mobile at 10 years old.
Help them rectify these early signs by setting easy-to-action rules. This could include a 'no screen time' rule during the evenings or after dinner; or have a 'no phone' rule on weekends during family activities (this is also a great way for parents to disconnect!).
Other steps include setting tech-free zones in the house, such as the kitchen, lounge room or bedroom, encouraging children to spend more time enjoying real-world activities.
2. Take advantage of parental controls
Parents aren't able to keep an eye on their kids every second of every day – and why would they want to! Independence is an important part of any child's development.
However, when they're at school, or travelling on the bus, there are plenty of moments that leave kids alone with their smartphones or devices.
During these moments, it's very easy for kids to get lost in the vast depths of the internet, in which they can often accidently end up on sites that are extremely inappropriate – and in some cases, unsafe.
Yomojo FamilyEye allows parents to manage children's social media usage, control website usage, adjust app restrictions and track location – all with an easy-to-follow dashboard.
It was designed to be super-simple and gives peace of mind that your kids are being responsible, and being protected from unwanted content.
Parental controls are also an effective way to combat addictive habits, such as playing games on smartphones, with recent research finding that almost half of Australia's top games met the criteria for gambling – leading to exposure to addictive behaviours.
3. Lead by example
As we know, children are like sponges, watching their parents' habits, as well as how they interact with the world around them – including how they use smartphones, tablets and laptops.
It's also harder for parents to talk to their children about screen moderation when they're not living the same mantra.
Put simply, be the role model your child needs, and do the best to follow the rules you set up for your children – at least while they're learning. If children see their parents breaking the rules, what's stopping them from breaking them themselves?
4. Keep up to date
The reality is, technology isn't going away, and parents need to stay informed on the latest online risks in order to spot the warning signs.
This includes keeping up to date with the latest technology news, such as new apps, gadgets and games.
A simple and effective way is to sign up to the latest family tech news (forums or parenting website), which will cover what's trending.
WATCH: Man shows parents how easy it is to lure teens online. Continues after video ...
5. Open up the conversation
Parents should speak to their children about the possible pitfalls of abusing technology, so that they are equipped with the skills to help them keep away from (and spot) potential avenues that might be unsafe.
This also allows room for parents to update their children on safety tips, such as teaching them to protect their privacy, i.e. to never reveal their personal information online nor to open links from people they don't know.
A simple way to keep regular conversations happening is to set scheduled check-ins, such as at the start of every school term. It also helps normalise what can often be a very confusing topic for the entire family.