#070 Keeping You and Your Family Safe Online: Jess McBeath

fasd success show Jun 27, 2021

How do I keep my child/teen/adult safe online is a frequent question I get from caregivers. 

In fact, just a couple of days ago in our private Facebook Caregiver group, someone asked that very question.  Caregivers responded with everything from, we never allow access, lock it up, only supervised use, to parental controls. I get it. We want to keep our kids safe. And for some this may still be the answer … but today’s guest is going to challenge your thinking a little. She sure did mine. She says the most important parental control is you … but it might not be in the way you think.  

Jess McBeath is an online safety specialist in Scotland, who believes everyone should be empowered to live a good life online. She has trained thousands of people, including teachers, social workers, foster carers, and police across the UK, to keep children, vulnerable adults and themselves safe online.   

Online safety is so fascinating because we have completely transformed our understanding of what we need to do to be safe online. 

This episode, like the presentations Jess makes, is about deconstructing and reconstructing our online presence and thinking about digital safety and citizenship. You likely have some expectations or ideas, but I bet many of you are going to leave with different ones. We cover mental health and screen time, pornography, cyberbullying, gaming, sexting, live streaming, FB lives, fake news, examining through a specific set of lenses:  

  • Why understanding technology and using technology to fix online safety does not fix online safety.  
  • What questions to ask yourself when planning for online use and safety, including examining your own relationship with technology.  
  • The motivation for our kids to be online and specific steps you can take to create an online safety plan for your family.  
  • What digital resilience is, how we build it and as “digital parents” what types of online skills we should be teaching our kids.  

If you really want to understand the world, then you want to try and get a wider perspective on it. The problem at the moment is that we are not informed because the technology decides our information for us and that’s what we need to change.  

Jess also gives ideas on how we can keep ourselves as caregivers safe, and how to release ourselves from the guilt of “too much” screen time for our kids. We discuss ways you can connect with your kids through technology. And it doesn’t always have to be learning how to game – but it can be!  
And as part of the perks of being in our Coffee Club (see Show Notes if you don’t know what that is all about or want to join), Jess answers a couple of questions from Coffee Club members: how do I communicate with the school about my child’s online use and how do I get started to learn about technology and safety.  

Now I get it, this episode might trigger some values clashes and long-held beliefs. But the fact is we live in a digital world. Unless you are living in the woods without access then you really do need a planned and mindful approach. I think Jess provides excellent advice. Let me know what you do to keep your kids safe and if you are going to do anything different after listening to today’s show. 

Show Notes: 

Find Jess on the web: peace of mind online 

or Twitter: @jess_mcbeath 

Suggested resources from Jess:

Connecting Safely Online: An online safety hub to empower young people with SEND.

Inclusive Digital Safety: Advice for supporting children and young people who are most likely to experience risk online.

Digital Passport: A communication tool to support children and young people with care experience to talk with their carers about their online lives.

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