According to a report in 2018 by DQ Institute, 64% of South African children between the ages of 8 and 12 have been exposed to at least one cyber-risk. Of the 38 000 participants in South Africa, 55% had experienced cyberbullying, 11% had partaken in real life meetings with online strangers, 9% had developed a video gaming addiction and 18% had engaged in online sexual behaviours.

These are scary figures, and you may be wondering if your child is one of those exposed to cyber-risks. Without a decent cyber education, they quite possibly could be. So, how do we develop smart digital citizens?

In the real world, we teach our children to look both ways before crossing a street; we teach them that talking to strangers is not safe, and we teach them the proper etiquette when it comes to speaking to other people. We encourage our children to learn these things for their safety and to improve the quality of their lives. If we have a set of rules for our children in the real world, it just makes sense that we’d provide them with a rule set for the online world.

It all starts at home. Your children look to you as an example of what they need to do and be in their lives, so if you’re making poor decisions online, chances are, they’ll follow suit. In order to teach digital citizenship, you need to be a good digital citizen yourself. While many parents monitor what their child watches on TV and who they meet up with in real life, they often forget to monitor what their child is doing on the internet.

You should make time for important digital conversations with your family to discuss what is acceptable and what is unacceptable with regards to online behaviour in your house. You should encourage your kids to come to you when they find themselves in an uncomfortable situation online. Be open and non-judgemental when they approach you, as this will let them know it’s okay and encouraged to do so.

Unsupervised time on the internet often results in some form of complication for the child and their parent. It could be accidentally downloading a virus onto the family computer, or it could be giving out your personal address to a stranger online. Either way, it’s not a very nice situation to find yourself in because your child was not properly educated on the risks of the internet. You, as a parent, should take it upon yourself to stay up to date with what’s happening in the online world so that you know what is acceptable for your child to browse or what to warn your child against.

Being a good digital parent is as much of a journey as learning to become a good digital citizen. The task is ever evolving and constantly requiring different methods of protection for each member of your family. With CyberSharp Protect, you can keep the whole family safe with one simple digital risk protection platform to monitor your online activity and alert you of any possible cyber-threats.