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Mark Safer Internet Day by being ‘present, aware and involved’, says ISPA

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Parents can mark ‘Safer Internet Day’ (SID) on 07 February by committing to being present, aware and involved when it comes to their children’s online and offline activities in 2023.

That’s the word from South Africa’s Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) which reminds the country’s parents and guardians of the very real danger of cyberbullying and other online-based threats to minor children.

There are today many outstanding content blockers, monitoring apps and other high-tech interventions to keep kids safe in cyberspace.

However, the most effective way to keep children safe across all environments is for parents to continue being present, aware and involved.

As the primary learning tool for growing numbers of young people around the globe, the Internet must become safer. ISPA calls on South African parents, guardians and others to spread the online safety message while researching parental control this year.

Parental controls can support efforts to keep kids’ Internet experiences safe, fun, and productive. They can only work, however, when used openly and honestly in partnership with children.

Parents should understand that parental controls are not 100% effective and therefore it is very important to talk to your child about using the Internet safely.

Setting parental controls through the account settings on their computer, whether MacOS or Windows, or Android and IOS mobile devices is the first step towards managing what your children can access on the Internet, where ever they may be. Most ISPs also provide information about enabling parental controls on the WiFi routers they provide, but do note that any controls set in this way would then apply to everyone using the home network.

Step-by-step instructions for preventing your child from accessing harmful content or being exposed to online abuse through their computer, phone, and gaming console can be found here.

Besides enforcing parental controls on each device your child uses, ISPA also suggests focusing on child behaviours and family values to help keep children safe online:

Actively talk to your children about the risks of the Internet in an age-appropriate way. Explain that just as in the real world, there are sometimes bad people and places online.

Consider drawing up social media and Internet access contracts between parents, guardians and children. There are many good templates for downloading online.

Perhaps commit the family’s agreed shared norms and values to paper so that errant online and offline behaviour is easily identified and remedied.

Possibly one of the most effective approaches is to limit device access in bedrooms and/or at night time when cyberbullying between children is much more likely to take place.

It is important to understand that the Internet abounds with online predators, cyber bullies and unsavoury content and it is therefore vital that parents ensure they understand how the Internet is used by the younger generation.

‘Together for a better Internet’ is the theme of this 20th instalment of Safer Internet Day which has become a landmark event in the global online safety calendar.

In South Africa, ISPA is joining the call for a worldwide web free of cyberbullying and other pressing online issues.

The Film and Publication Board (FPB) – an organisation with which ISPA enjoys a close working relationship – is the South African SID Committee member that leads SID activities in South Africa. Today, SID is marked in over 200 countries worldwide.

A recognised Industry Representative Body (IRB), ISPA has helped shape the ICT sector since 1996 by providing regular submissions on relevant legislation and the pursuit of Competition Commission complaints which have fundamentally changed the Internet access landscape in South Africa.

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