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Karen Martin and Beverley Ireland-Symonds promote the value of having effective communication skills for individuals, teams and organisations.
Thursday, 9 September 2010

Explaining internet security to kids

Have you ever tried to explain the importance of internet security to your children? It's not easy is it? You don't want to frighten them, but you know that they need to understand how to keep their Facebook or MySpace pages secure so they' are only sharing information with people they know and trust.. Too often children share information that should never be shared with complete strangers on the entirely false premis that these people are their friends.

Having been in the position of explaining internet policies to children and adults in an educational setting on numerous occasions I think I have a pretty good grasp of the issues and could make a reasonable job of it . Still I'm not sure that 'reasonable job' is good enough and I know from ecxperience that if the document runs to a couple of pages and is over wordy then people will simply switch off. Apart from resorting to paraphrasing a lot of text, I have never had a document that has been well received by the intended audience.  So today I was thrilled to receive a retweet  from Sue Atkins (@PositiveParents).about internet security and children.

I clicked on the link because I know from experience that Sue's links are always useful.  As well as writing authoratively on many subjects herself, she's always on the lookout for information from other sources that she can share. So I clicked and was directed to 'Internet Contract' at Bsecure. This one page document is a must for all parents with children who want to explain about internet safety in easily understood terms.  But I believe the best bit is that this document is a contract that both parent and child sign which emphasises the importance of it. If your're not sure about security - you learn together.  If you are - the work has still been done for you, so don't reinvent the wheel.

As a communication skills trainer I can see how BSecure have clearly considered who they are targeting and written accordingly. More organisations could follow their lead and produce documents and notices that can be understood by the expected audience. When I'd finished reading the document (twice) I was excited by it because I can clearly see that it will be used.  However, I did think there was one aspect that was missing...

Having worked with children and adults with learning difficulties and disabilities I thought that there needed to be a version of the contract for those children who find it easier to access information with pictorial support. I suggested this to BSecure and they immediately replied back to say they would produce one. So an organisation who not only thinks about their target market, but is happy and willing to respond to feedback.  You can't get better communication than that. It'sgreat service!

So parents/grandparents/carers/guardians don't hesitate - download the contract and start using it.

So how old should children be before you start explaining the ins and outs of internet security?  I would welcome your comments.

I'm indebted to Sue and BSecure for inspiring this blog.  To keep up to date with the fast changing environment of online protection for your children follow BSecure on twitter @BSecureOnline and bookmark their website. I you aren't familiar with Sue please visit her Postive Parents website
to find information that you didn't even know you needed