Safeguarding your son’s health and wellbeing, and online safety is a challenging mission.
Teachers are trained to be vigilant at school, but where do you begin when practising vigilance at home? It is difficult, particularly for parents of teenage boys, to find a balance between protecting their son’s safety and respecting their privacy.
It is essential to educate your son on good online hygiene to maintain his reputation and his wellbeing. Establishing clear rules will help your son learn what is appropriate and acceptable. Developing good habits and social awareness is your aim as you guide your son so he can also take responsibility in keeping himself safe.
The importance of parental vigilance cannot be underestimated. Here are tips to keep your son safe online:
Make bedrooms’ device-free zones at bedtime. Keep all electronic devices in a place away from your son’s bedroom. This gives him a much-needed break from technology to switch off and focus on getting a good night’s sleep. It removes the temptation to browse content that may be inappropriate.
Ensure your son understands the basics of internet safety, such as not opening email from addresses that he doesn’t recognise, and not clicking on unfamiliar links in messages. Remind him to not turn off antivirus programmes and firewalls and never share personal or financial details with others online.
Set parental controls on your internet and use strong passwords to prevent easy access to inappropriate content. Regularly review and change passwords and have a copy of your son’s password.
Importantly, encourage open conversation with your son about the potential dangers online, including bullying, pornography and predatory behaviour.
Talk to your son about who he ‘connects’ with online and what websites or apps he visits so you are informed and can highlight anything you’re concerned about. Your son needs to be aware of your rules and follow them in order to earn your trust.
Be aware of what the age restrictions are for each platform. Do not allow your son to lie about his age to gain access to content that is not suitable.
Become a follower, friend or part of his network so that you can see the content he is posting and sharing. Discuss with him anything that you do not approve of and explain why.
Online bullying is a growing concern on social media. Your son needs to know that he is accountable for anything he shares or does on social media and that it cannot be erased once it is posted.
Teach your son to stand up for himself and say no. It is vital that he is able to recognise inappropriate behaviour and shows resilience when approached with harassment or bullying behaviour.
Parents need to be particularly vigilant when monitoring their son’s mental health. Take note of any changes in his behaviour, mood, eating, social activity or sleeping habits. If you are concerned, contact the School’s support network or your doctor.
Encourage him to socialise outside of social media. Present opportunities where he can make new friends and mix with others, such as at family events, church, youth groups or sports clubs.
Close friends are a predictor of good mental health and may enable your son to be more resilient in coping with life’s up and downs.
If your son seems anxious, focus on solutions and coping methods. Counselling may be a good way for your son to talk through issues in a safe environment.
Parents need to be vigilant in how boys treat their bodies to ensure good physical health so that they can function properly. Routine is important and helps your son can get the eight hours of sleep he needs.
Growing boys need the right fuel to keep them going all day and maintain concentration. Fats, sugars and fast food are not every day food. Physical exercise goes hand in hand with a healthy diet. Lead by example and encourage an active lifestyle within your family.
At Trinity Grammar School, we take the wellbeing of our boys very seriously. If you are concerned about your son, it is important to seek support.
To learn more about the Trinity difference, and why we are one of Sydney’s leading schools for boys, download our Prospectus.