If, as the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child”, how should we adapt to the digital age, where the internet has effectively taken the place of the village? The ‘village’ has moved beyond traditional parameters to become a global, interconnected community and as such, we need to arm ourselves with the right tools and education to prepare children for the digital world.
While the online world may seem like a scary place to some parents, at Liberty Global we believe that with the right checks in place, the internet can be a wonderful source of knowledge and entertainment for children, and can be a safe environment to learn important lessons and social skills.
That’s why we’re a supporter of Safer Internet Day, which provides an opportunity for parents, teachers and internet providers alike, to promote the positive and safe use of digital technology. This year’s theme ‘Together for a better internet’ encourages parents to create an open dialogue with young people about inspiring positive changes online and to raise awareness of online safety issues.
Safe and appropriate internet behaviour can be taught and learnt in much the same way as you would teach your child any fundamental value. In the school playground for example, we teach our children how to socialize, share and respect each other while enjoying themselves at the same time. This philosophy can be taken online. While the internet opens up a whole new world in which to make friends, children need to be provided with the tools and guidance to grow into respectful and respected members of the digital playground.
Of late, there has been an increased focus on young internet users being exposed to inappropriate content online. For all the positive educational, creative and inspiring platforms the internet provides, it can also be a source of disturbing content. This is where our parental controls come in handy. Across our footprint, we have a series of parental controls available through the Connect app. This helps parents both limit the content their children are able to view and places time restrictions on internet usage on chosen devices.
While parental controls can be effective, they are just the beginning when it comes to monitoring a child’s digital life. Internet trends such as Fortnite and TikTok show that games and apps are developing with increasing speed, becoming global sensations overnight. Trying to keep up with all new apps is no mean feat, even for the most savvy of parents, which is why understanding and engaging with a child’s digital world is more important than ever. As long as parents and children communicate freely and openly with each other, they can work together to ensure that the internet is a force for good.
As a provider of connectivity, we believe that our responsibility goes beyond providing superfast broadband speeds into ensuring that our network is safe and secure for all users, particularly our younger users. This belief was 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.
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.
Find our e-safety toolkits for a safer internet here!