An attentive parent is a friend indeed

PARENTS protecting their children in cyberspace may be as much about being friends in real life as it is being Facebook friends.

Experts in cyber safety have continually warned parents to monitor their children's online habits, but a Sunshine Coast psychologist says this is becoming increasingly difficult because of the rise in mobile devices.

Toula Gordillo said cyber safety also involved parents having good relationships with their children and becoming more aware of the technology they were using.

"Develop a relationship with your child. Have as much one-on-one time with them as possible," she said.

"I have three children and I'll often go into the bedroom and sit with one and ask questions, ask if everything's okay, or I'll do a physical activity with them and talk at the same time.

"You don't have to be intrusive. They'll usually tell you if there's a problem."

Mrs Gordillo said parents should also develop relationships with their kids' friends.

"Often the best friend is the best source of information if your child is being bullied," she said.

Mrs Gordillo also recommended parents monitor their children's online behaviour as Facebook friends - without making comments - and decree that household digital devices be recharged in the lounge at night, the most common time for cyber bullying.

She said a "digital divide" was opening up as children's knowledge of social media and technology eclipsed that of their parents, and parents who got to know their children would find it easier to keep tabs on their lives, both online and real.

Psychologist and author Michael Carr-Gregg writes in his latest book, Beyond Cyberbullying, the most obvious way for parents to find out what their children are doing online is to ask them.

"They know their way around and the younger ones especially will be happy to show you what they are doing," Mr Carr-Gregg said.

Mrs Gordillo said a child being cyber bullied could also be the victim of real-life bullying.

Media sites

Top 10 social media sites in Australia in 2013 (by number of users)

  • Facebook 13 million
  • YouTube 11.5 million
  • WordPress 3.15 million
  • Blogspot 3 million
  • LinkedIn 3 million
  • Tumblr 2.5 million
  • Twitter 2.17 million
  • Instagram 1.47 million
  • Flickr 850,000
  • TripAdvisor 850,000

- Adcorp.com.au figures quoted in Beyond Cyberbullying


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