As a parent, keeping your children and family members safe is a top priority. It’s no wonder 80 per cent of Aussie parents worry about protecting their family, and one in four spend at least an hour every day worrying about it.
Whether it’s online safety and cyber bullying or ensuring your kids are keeping fit and eating well, protecting the health and safety of your family involves a lot of different elements. To assist with these issues, we’ve listed some of the top things you can do to safeguard what’s most important to you.
The need to protect your children with online safety is an unfortunate element of today’s digital age that has been unprecedented in previous generations.
83 per cent of teenagers in Australia go online three or more times a day1 and younger children may be accessing the internet for educational tools and research. The internet has become an essential part of our world, and staying off it altogether isn’t always a practical solution.
Working with your kids to teach them online-safety strategies – and enforcing those strategies – is the best way to protect your kids from risks in the online environment.
Communicate with your kids as soon as they start using the internet. Discuss what they’re reading and watching online, and ask them about who they’re talking to online.1 Talk about apps and sites, and discuss what’s appropriate and what’s not. Also talk to your children about their online reputation and what they’re sharing online.
Track their online connections
Make sure you’re aware of who your kids are communicating with online. Check their social media and apps, and have regular open discussions about who they’re befriending online.1
Always monitor online time, especially for younger children. Ideally kids between five and 17 should be spending a maximum of two hours a day in screen time.1
Try to keep screens and devices where you can see them. You can control WiFi access by setting connections to a schedule, so you can determine when your kids can go online. You can also use parental controls and parental-control apps to block and track websites your kids are viewing.1
Teach your kids about the importance of privacy and protecting personal information, and how photos and private data can be made public with a post. Sharing locations can also come with risks, so turn off location-sharing settings. Teach your kids to be thoughtful about what they’re sharing, and educate kids about staying in control of their digital footprint.1
Educate kids about the risks of public WiFi and how to avoid sharing sensitive data on these networks. At home, make sure your WiFi connection is secured with encryption and a strong password, and that the network-name (SSID) broadcasting is turned off.2
Keep the operating systems on your tablets, phones, and computers updated, and likewise update your malware protection software. Teach your kids about not clicking on links in suspicious emails or downloading files from untrusted sites.2
Cyber bullying is when someone engages in bullying behaviour using technology, such as a mobile device or the internet. It can be harder to avoid and even more harmful than other types of bullying as it can happen outside of school hours, and escalate quickly as harmful content can be shared fast and with a wide audience. Examples include abusive texts and posting hurtful content on social media.3
As a parent, you can protect your children from cyber bullying by encouraging your kids to tell you or another trusted adult if they’re being bullied. You should also emphasise the importance of not sharing their passwords or giving mobile numbers and personal information to someone they don’t know well. Teach your children about using the strictest privacy settings for their online accounts, and show them how to block and report users.3
Encourage your kids to friend only friends or people they know in real life, and show them how to be thoughtful and considered in what they post and share online. You might find it effective to friend your children, especially if you have younger kids, on social media to track what’s happening with them online.3
Good nutrition, encouraging physical activity, and regular health checks are essential elements of protecting your children’s health. As a parent, you play a critical role in reinforcing a healthy lifestyle, good nutrition, hygiene, and staying active. Aussie parents are well aware of this, with 98 per cent paying close attention to their family’s diet.
As your children grow, you can teach them about making smart food choices and keeping fit and active, thereby empowering them to make their own positive lifestyle choices.
Nutrition and physical activity
Awareness of the value of nutrition and staying fit begins in childhood. Emphasise to your kids the link between nutrition and physical activity, and good health.
Be a positive example
By eating well and staying active yourself, you can be a model of positive behaviour for your kids.4
Reinforce good habits
Encourage your kids to develop good eating habits from early childhood. Appropriate portion sizes, limiting processed foods, healthful snacking, and choosing nutritious foods are some of the key things to cover when reinforcing good habits.4 Follow the Australian Dietary Guidelines for kids [PDF] as a starting point, and draw on a range of free resources, such as those from the Department of Health for inspiration.
Good oral hygiene
Good oral hygiene is also a vital element in protecting your child’s health, so it’s essential to educate your kids about brushing and flossing effectively.4
Have conversations about the importance of nutrition and give them fun, engaging opportunities to learn about eating healthfully.4
Provide opportunities every day to stay physically active and practice new physical skills.4
Regular health checks
Regular health checks are important for babies and young children to see they’re developing normally. Checks also help you find any health issues, so you and your doctor can address them as soon as possible.
Your baby should be checked at or shortly after birth at the hospital or clinic. The check will typically cover the pregnancy and birth, as well as your baby’s weight, height, and head circumference. Soon after you might have the Neonatal Screen Testing and the Newborn Hearing Screening tests done.5
1–4 week check
Up to a month after birth, you will ideally have your baby checked again. You can talk to the doctor about feeding, immunisations, and any health issues you’ve observed.5
6 week check
It’s recommended to bring your baby in for another check at the six-week mark. This and the remaining checks can be done by your family doctor.5
6–9 month check
Along with the standard physical checks, you can talk to your doctor about any issues you’ve observed, feeding, sleeping, immunisations, and any baby-care or development questions you have.5
18–24 month check
Along with the physical checks, your checkup might cover any behavioural or development questions you might have for your doctor.5
3 year check
When your child reaches the age of three, it’s another good time to see your doctor for a full medical check. Again, you can discuss development or behavioural questions you might have about your child, including questions about vision and hearing.5
4 year check
The 4-year check is a good time to have your child checked by your doctor before they are due to start preschool. It’s important to have this check done before the classes start as it will give you the opportunity to find and treat any developmental, hearing, and sight concerns. You can also ensure your child is up to date with his or her immunisations.5
Safeguarding the health and safety of your children is a matter of effort and commitment, and it’s dependent on when you, as the parent, are healthy and present. It’s easier not to think about it, but what if the unthinkable were to happen and you were no longer there to care for your family?
A comprehensive plan for protecting your children covers all the possibilities, and this could be the reason why nearly nine out of 10 Aussie parents think life insurance is important according to the Real Family Protection survey. In addition, 91 per cent of parents who have life insurance value it for the peace of mind it brings.
If you were to become terminally ill or pass away, you can continue to protect your partner and your children with life insurance. With a lump-sum payout from Family Life Cover, your family may maintain their lifestyles and get the medical checks they need without worrying about financial hardship. When arranging and reviewing your life insurance, make sure you have sufficient cover, as only one in three parents are confident they have sufficient cover according to the Family Protection survey.
Despite the myths about life insurance, it can be more affordable than you might think, and as long as you go with a reputable provider you may rest easier knowing the terms and conditions are transparent and fair. And if you buy life insurance direct, you’re more able to control your benefit amounts and optional cover it to fit your family’s needs.
Keeping your kids safe as they grow
As your kids grow, you’ll want to provide them with the best support to help them develop and realise their full potential. A part of this involves protecting their health and safety, whether it’s addressing online-safety risks or good health and nutrition. Additionally, having a contingency plan with life insurance will give you and your family peace of mind they’re protected no matter what.
Real Insurance is an awarding-winning provider of value-for-money insurance products. Find out more about our life insurance and request a quick quote online now.