Generation Z has been a pretty hot topic at the moment. For those unfamiliar with the term, Generation Z refers to 16-22 year old’s. Recent research carried out for Newsbeat found that older generations believe today’s youth are lazy, selfish and addicted to social media.
As a mum and step-mum, I have to disagree with this, but I can certainly see why the older generation would possibly think this. My three step-children all fall into the category of Generation Z. They’re 18, 20 and 22.
In their short lives they’ve achieved so much more than I ever did at their age. The 22 year old has a good job, works hard and owns her own car.
The 20 year old is in university studying to become a nurse, and the 18 year old has just started university as well.
When I was their age I never even considered university and I certainly would never have been able to afford to move out or buy my own car. I think they’re doing quite well for themselves!
That covers the whole lazy and selfish angle, time to focus on the real issue at hand. Addiction to social media.
Addicted to Social Media
Yes, social media is everywhere. It’s even more accessible now than ever before and I agree that if you walk into a pub or even just down the road, you’ll probably see a lot people, of all ages I might add, staring down at their phones, completely oblivious to their surroundings.
Generation Z have never known life without the internet. To them it’s the norm and that’s understandable. My mother-in-law (88) has known life without TV, yet I never have, so again being able to watch TV at the click of a button is the norm for me.
What concerns me most about people using social media, especially our children, is that they do so safely and securely.
Keeping Children Mobile Safe at School
My children are five years old. They don’t own a mobile phone, they rarely access the internet and I highly doubt that they even know what Google is.
However, I’m aware of the fact that the internet is important. It’s important because it facilities nearly every aspect of modern life. We use it to control our finances, to do our food shopping, to learn and be educated, but also to be entertained. It’s how we stay in touch with family and friends.
We use it to find out information such as the weather, road closures and how to get a wine stain out of our carpet.
The internet is important. I use it to help my children with their reading practise. By using an online reading programme I’m exposing them to the internet. Naturally I sit with them so that I can monitor their usage, however I’m not always going to be there to do this.
I also have no doubt in my mind that my children use the internet whilst in school under the supervision of a teacher. However, how are we supposed to protect our children online when they get their own mobile phones?
Keeping our children mobile safe in school is a big worry of mine. I want to allow them access to the internet when they’re old enough, but at the same time I want to ensure that the content they’re accessing is age-appropriate and safe, but also secure.
We’ve all heard the stories on the news of how children enter chat rooms thinking they’re talking to someone who is the same age as them, but it turns out they’re not. Or someone’s child accepts a friend request from a stranger and then things start to get sinister.
It’s a growing problem that a lot of parents are unsure about how best to protect their children online.
The first thing a lot of parents look to do is set up parental controls.
Parental controls can be used to monitor how long your child spends online, but also to block harmful content.
It’s easy to set up and can be installed on phones, tablets, games consoles and laptops. What’s more if your child decides to use the free school WiFi, parental controls can help with public WiFi security too.
Aside from parental controls, what else can we do to protect our children when using their mobile phones at school?
Talking to our children about online safety is just as important. There’s that old saying, ‘forewarned is forearmed’. By giving our children the knowledge and tools to stay safe online, we’re showing them that we trust them, but also that we want them to stay safe online.
Creating a list of ‘acceptable websites’ is a good idea, but also making sure our children know what information about themselves should never be shared online.
It’s also important to let children know that they should never display their phone publicly. Keeping it safe in their bag can help prevent theft and their phone being misused. For this reason it’s also important that children protect their phone with a password.
Another solution to keep children mobile safe at school is to look into getting an online security package. Kaspersky is just one of many available online. In addition to providing protection against malware, they also have a suite of features available aimed at protecting children online, and privacy protection. This includes setting up a temporary VPN (Virtual Private Network) which encrypts all internet data sent and received on a device when it’s switched on. The purpose of this is to offer ‘follow me security’ – to protect our family wherever we are and on whatever device our children are using to access the internet. Their Facebook page has some useful tips and information too.
In conclusion we, as parents need to understand the risks involved in allowing our children to access the internet. By being armed with information about how to keep our children safe online, we can rest assured safe in the knowledge that our children will be kept safe online.