I was a curious child; driving my parents crazy asking question after question on random topics. It came as no surprise when they quickly adapted their response to, “Go look it up!”  I dreaded this as it meant searching through our 30-piece Encyclopaedia Britannica which would take me hours! (Come to think of it, maybe that was their motive). 

Years later I can relate – my son is also curious…. but often, before I can even respond, he is already suggesting that he is off to ‘Google’ it!  While his questions remain just as random as mine, “Do dragons and unicorns really exist?” the volume of online resources he now has access to is fascinating and overwhelming. With the internet at their fingertips – via mobiles, tablets, consoles and laptops – we must do everything we can to educate our children about the online world.

With so many children using technology to attend online classes, our children’s exposure to the internet is greater than ever. As I have been home-schooling my own child, I started to think of important ways to stay smart online to keep both of us safe  throughout the pandemic and beyond. Sensible factors to always consider are checking all privacy settings, being selective with friend requests and not sharing location updates.

Beyond keeping our children safe online, we also need to teach them what it means to be a good digital citizen.  I find this starts by being a good digital role model, setting an example with my own behaviour – being kind, respectful and mindful of the information I share online.  I engage my son by talking often and openly about what he is watching and playing online.  By exploring his online world together, I can share my experiences so that he can learn and I find this feels more fun than policing.  I also use parental controls to set content restrictions on my son’s devices, while industry and governments are working hard to keep harmful content out of the reach of young children; it is important parents help decide and limit what they consider appropriate.

At Liberty Global, online safety is just as important as the superfast connectivity we offer. This belief is the driving force behind our partnership with European Schoolnet. Since 2007, Liberty Global and European Schoolnet have worked together to produce toolkits that give families, educators and children practical help on important topics like online safety, cyberbullying and critical thinking. These safer internet toolkits have been used over 2 million times in 18 different languages, showing the willingness of teachers and parents to invest in their own digital education. And we continue to do more.

Every child should have the chance to grow up feeling empowered online. We intend to continue focusing on education and awareness for teachers, parents and children so that we encourage our youngest digital citizens to harness the potential and positivity the internet has to offer. It is important to foster digital skills amongst children, not just to help them navigate the net now in a safe way but also to develop critical thinking, technical skills and experience as they grow into the workforce of tomorrow. Supporting the young generation in digital skills and online awareness will help them in an ever-changing and innovating society.

Find our e-safety toolkits for a safer internet here.