Congratulations...your child can now drive a car. This is amazing. We can send them up to the shops, they can drive themselves to school, we can sleep in on weekends as they drive themselves and a car load of their friends to cricket. Life is now so great.
What? What’s that you say? They are only 9 years old? Stop right there. We can’t give a 6, 9 or 12-year-old a license to drive a car. They are not ready. It is too dangerous. They do not know enough about life to even think about putting them in the driver’s seat. This is ridiculous!
Yet, we do it. Too often and without considering the consequences on our child and their friends.
We give our 6, 9 and 12-year-olds unfettered license (my 1st terrible pun) to the internet and, in doing so, we put them in the driver’s seat (my second) without the proper training and experience to handle it.
We wouldn’t consider giving our car keys to our 7-year-old to go explore Perth and places unknown, but we actually do. Every time our child logs on to a network that does not have filtering software we are putting them in the driver’s seat and they are wholly unprepared for it.
So, what can we do. Just like learning to drive we need practice, a parent sitting next to them, and good habits to learn. They need time to develop the skills, attributes and trust to get behind the wheel by themselves. Currently, I believe, that sits at 50 hours of driving with an adult sitting next to them (I am a little vague on teaching to drive as my daughter was taught 8 years ago in the US and my 21 year old has never bothered to get his driver’s license!).
Let’s develop a L and P plate system for our kids and the internet. Firstly, let’s all of us, every family at GGS Preparatory School, have some sort of filtering software or device. Please remember that we are literally handing our car keys to our children to “drive anywhere” if we do not take the steps to teach them how and when to use the internet properly.
There are many resources for us, as parents, to access in a world where we are the digital immigrants and our child the natives. The best first step is to know that we are in charge of all internet access in our homes. We own the devices, screen time and access - until they have earned the right to “the keys”.
Please have a look through the following sites for advice. Please discuss with your children the steps that as “L platers” they will need to go through before earning their “provisional P plate”.
At school we have a wide range of filtering software; cyber safety is a significant aspect of our health curriculum; we have guest speakers come in to discuss these issues with our students and I get a daily and weekly update of all sites and searches done by anyone on our network. Unfortunately though, 99.99% of the issues we face with the internet are from home.
If you stopped reading already because your child is either “too young” or “would never use the internet in a negative way” then please take some times to look through the data and research, because if they are over 5 years old then they are already “in the driver’s seat”.
We take these issues at school very seriously and ask that you please do the same at home. Together we can teach them properly how to drive the internet. Thanks to Mr Budler, this year we have booked dynamic, informative sessions on Cyber safety/Cyber bullying run by highly acclaimed speaker, Susan McLean, from www.cybersafetysolutions.com.au.
Just like learning to drive a car (and please no replies about driverless cars) it is an incredible tool and one that is and will be an important part of our children’s lives. Let’s teach them how to use it properly.
Some sites to look at:
Mr Clark Wight
Head of Preparatory School
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