Back to School Online Safety – A Must-have Discussion Between Parents and their Kids

It’sSchool Bus: Boy Checks Texts on Cell Phone the most wonderful time of the year – and I’m not talking about the holidays. I’m talking back to school! I am sure many parents agree that at this time of year we look forward to injecting a bit of structure back into our family routine.

As parents get their kids prepared to head back to school, there’s one thing that’s more important than any backpack or notebook – it’s the know-how kids need to be safe online.

According to Canadian not-for-profit organization and official TELUS WISE partner MediaSmarts, one in 10 Canadian students experienced some form of cyber-bulling last year and studies show that it can have traumatic effects on youth. Yet kids underestimate how much it can impact them, shrugging it off as a normal part of interacting online.

As board chair of MediaSmarts, I know how important it is for parents to educate themselves on smart online safety habits and in turn, share those learnings with their kids. This is especially important since an increasing number of children are getting new mobile devices at younger ages than ever before. In fact, a TELUS survey revealed that 71 per cent of parents purchased their child’s first mobile device before they turned 14 and 5 per cent before the age of eight.

Interestingly, a big reason why parents say they are buying these devices is to protect their children offline: nearly one-third (31 per cent) say they want to be able to contact their child, while 27 per cent want their child to have a mobile device in case of an emergency. What’s more, nearly half (47 per cent) of respondents whose children have smartphones say they have data plans enabling access to the Internet and social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on their mobile device.

With the World Wide Web at their fingertips, parents are worried about their children’s online safety: 64 per cent of parents are concerned about the visibility of personal information, 50 per cent are concerned about privacy and 42 per cent of all parents surveyed reported that cyberbullying is a top concern when it comes to their child’s safe use of mobile devices.

Parenting has sure changed since I was a kid.  With educational programs like TELUS WISE, parents and kids have access to tools and resources they need to keep themselves informed and, ultimately, safer online.  In collaboration with MediaSmarts, we’ve also recently launched a helpful guide called “Helping our Kids Navigate their Wired World.”

To help you get started, we’ve prepared a top 10 list of online safety tips for parents as kids head back to school. Parents – feel free to share your own tips and learnings about online safety for kids in the comments below.

TELUS WISE Tips for Back to School