Lots of media coverage about children and E-safety in my opinion is sensationalist nonsense designed to cause fear and outrage, rather than help parents make good decisions about how to protection their children. Digital Parenting is one of the notable exceptions. I have to declare an interest here in that I was interviewed for one of the articles about foster parents and E-safety. This is the article.
Set realistic expectations early on
Newly fostered children often arrive with mobile devices they’ve brought from their previous home. They may have been allowed to view unsuitable material or to stay up late online, resulting in sleep deprivation.
It can be a challenge to change such habits, but it’s not impossible. It’s best to establish ground rules regarding online time immediately, just as you would with any other house rules.
It’s also important to be realistic: telling a child that they can use the computer only where you can see them isn’t going to work in the mobile age.
Don’t jump to conclusions
Do a bit of research first and find out what it is that they like about a particular game or website. Check it out yourself and don’t rely on sensationalist newspaper stories.
Be clued up
Technology moves so quickly that it can be difficult to keep track. But it’s essential to be aware of what different devices can do. One family were happily allowing their child to play on a games console, without realising that it was connected to the wifi and that the child was using it to contact his birth parent.
Be positive and communicate
Engage in their digital lives and show an interest in what your foster child does online. Share your favourite websites and talk to them about theirs. If you’re already talking about the fun and easy stuff, they’ll be much more likely to tell you if something scary does happen.