Principal urges parents to develop good internet habits at home
The family that learns together: Netallete Brady-Brown (right) and her children Trey (left) and Djaunae, read a flyer with internet safety tips during the Internet SMART Parenting session at Runaway Bay All-Age School on May 18.

Principal of the Runaway Bay All-Age School, Lambert Pearson, says he wants to see more families using the internet to develop positive behaviours. Pearson was speaking at the Internet SMART Parenting session staged by the Flow Foundation and the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) on Wednesday, May 18.

These forums, being held during Child Month, focus on educating and empowering parents to be the first line of defense in their children being exposed to potentially harmful internet practices and content.

Pearson pointed out that since face-to-face learning resumed he has noticed an increase in risqué behavioural patterns of students which include engaging with sexual content and mimicking harmful behaviour, such as trying to balance on unstable objects.

“These are things they pick up online and it plays out at school,” said Pearson. “We also see instances where the children are developing an accent because they want to sound like the children in the shows they are watching.”

Pearson said both parents and their children have the opportunity to use the internet to promote good behaviour.

Flow’s Public Relations Manager, LeVaughn Flynn (left), presents a poster with the SMART internet tips to the Principal of the Runaway Bay All-Age School, Lambert Pearson. The posters will be placed across the school and serve as an accessible reference point for safe online habits.

“The children are eager and willing to learn but they have to be guided in the home. For example, when you give them an assignment they will go on the internet and research it. We want to have a student population that is using the internet to expand their minds and not practicing risky behaviour. That’s why this session is so important because we have to help the parents to protect and guide the children.”

Clinical Psychologist at the CPFSA, Melody Samuels said parents should prioritise being involved in their child’s online activities. She says this not only ensures visibility of the child’s actions but, when done right, can strengthen the bond between the child and parent.

“Parents should make it their duty to monitor children's activity online. This may mean at times that you watch an entire programme with them or observe the game that they're playing,” Samuels said.

“Showing genuine interest in a child's pursuits will build that bond, as children will feel parents have a genuine desire to see them do what they love. Parents who spend time with their children watching and playing, learn about the characters, the plot, and the various other aspects of children's online lives and therefore can converse with them about it. This knowledge is also useful for birthday gifts/party themes, and other such gestures.”

The Internet SMART Parenting series is part of a larger goal of the Flow Foundation to prepare Jamaicans for the digital economy. This not only means having the skills and knowledge to navigate the internet but understanding how to protect yourself and family from online dangers. The series will make its next stop at Irwin Primary School on May 26 followed by Mineral Heights Primary School on May 30.

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