Cyber Safety
Bona|June 2017

Keeping your child safe in the digital age is something that parents should take responsibility for.

Kerryn Massyn

There is no denying that we live in the digital age. You can access information at the click of a button, just as everyone carries a cellphone, tablet or digital device at all times. Although useful in many ways, the opportunities that staying connected bring have made the world smaller. And, they also bring along some dangers and hurdles. As a parent, how can you guide your children through this new environment?

CHILDREN, PHONES AND THE INTERNET

Many South African parents wonder when to buy their children phones. According to clinical psychologist Vossie Goosen, there is no perfect age to do this. “I first gave my child a cellphone when he was 12,” says Ivy Ndaba whose son, Jabu, is now 16. “I only wanted him to have a phone at 13, but he was nagging me for it. He wanted to be like his friends, who had phones at an early age. I told myself that at least I would be able to stay in contact with him when he was with friends or visiting his dad,” Ivy says. According to US research firm Influence Central, the average American child gets his first smartphone at the age of 10, two years younger than the same statistics showed in 2012. South Africa is not far behind – a 2016 paper titled Global Kids Online published by Cape Town’s Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention found that of those interviewed, 70.4% of children from 9 to 14 used the Internet regularly, while 86.3% had social media accounts.

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