Keeping your kids safe in an increasingly violent society
It's something no parent wants to think about, but the reality is that we have to talk to our children about what to do to remain safe, and not just on the streets. Here are a few ways to manage online and real-life risks facing your young ones.
By staying well informed of their day-to-day habits and activities, you will be better placed to protect them. (iStock)
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With an average of 2 children going missing every day across the country, it’s never been more important to educate your children with respect to their safety and to implement preventative measures to ensure their welfare. 

Thanks to the ever-present smart digital devices, children are becoming increasingly exposed to inappropriate content, and in turn, exposing themselves to unwanted attention, thanks to the culture of oversharing that has evolved over the course of the past decade.

Here are a few ways to manage the very real risks facing your little ones according to .....

Communicate

For young, impressionable minds, violence is something that happens to other people and is something confined only to movies and television shows.

As such, it is important to ensure that you communicate regularly with your children, taking time to explain the perils they might face.

Ensure they have a good grasp of the basics – do not speak to strangers, do not let anyone unknown into the premises – and make sure to enquire regularly as to their well-being.

By staying well informed of their day-to-day habits and activities, you will be better placed to protect them.

Supervise

This goes without saying, but it is important to ensure that your children are supervised or accompanied by yourself or someone you truly trust when coming and going.

Equally, it is vital that you familiarise yourself with the contact details of all their closest friends, as well as their parents, so that you are able to keep tabs on their whereabouts, particularly once they reach that tricky rebellious age, when adult supervision is no longer considered ‘cool’. 

Minimise screen time

Not only can time spent on digital devices expose children to unwanted attention and potentially disturbing content, but it can also be counterproductive when it comes to cognitive development.

As such, it is probably a good idea to set limits on screen time, so as to encourage more educationally enriching pursuits like reading.

Tools like Google Family Link  now allow you to lock devices for a set period of time, thus ensuring that your kids are forced to find more constructive ways to entertain themselves.

Educate yourself

One of the main problems when it comes to social media is that today’s kids tend to be savvier in this field than their parents.

All too often, parents themselves are not aware of the threats that the online world poses, and thus are not able to impart important information that could make a huge difference to their children’s’ safety.

So, first and foremost, it is vital that you inform yourself and keep tabs on the various threats facing today’s children online. Having done so, be sure to pass it on -

ensure your children’s social profiles are equipped with adequate privacy settings, discourage location tagging and explain the various threats that come part and parcel with over-exposure. 

Monitor and moderate

Smartphones have ushered in an age of low concentration spans, deteriorating language comprehension and widespread narcissism.

However, on the flip side, they also provide unprecedented ways in which you can keep tabs on your kids and consequently, keep them safe.

Apps enable you to keep track of your kids’ online activity, block certain apps and schedule screen time.

Not only that, but they also allow you to easily geo-locate your little ones and to receive alerts when any new apps are downloaded or when your kids exit an area that you have ring fenced and identified as safe.

Smartphones and devices are not going anywhere in a hurry, but rather than simply accepting this sometimes confusing reality as the ‘new normal’, arm yourself with information and take proactive steps to ensure that your kids are using these tools for productive, rather than destructive, reasons.

Compiled for Parent24 by MiWay Insurance Limited. 

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