Raising responsible digital citizens

Apparently, Bill Gates did not give his children a phone until they were 14. This prompted me to perform some basic research that indicates the average age that children get a smartphone is just 10.

As a parent of children who are in this age ‘zone’ of mobile device ownership, the online world our children inhabit is a constant companion for me (and something, as Headmaster, that parents often ask me about).

Digital citizenship does feature in the BGS curriculum and we are in the midst of broadening and building a school-wide eSmart Schools curriculum from Prep to VCE. However, educating our children to be responsible digital citizens is a great example of where the school and the home must work together. After all, the basics of courtesy, respect, decency and of course common sense apply equally in the online world as they do in the face-to-face world.

These three simple tips to help keep kids safe online from the Australian Government’s iParent e-safety site are a great starting point for parents:

  1. Use technology tools to keep them safe

There are many technological advances, including parental controls, privacy settings, and filtering and e-security software, that can enhance the experience for your son online and help keep him safe.

  1. Encourage safe and responsible behaviour

Setting rules for your child’s internet use and establishing clear boundaries and expectations is imperative. Your rules will depend on the age of your children and the level of responsibility you are willing to give but it is underpinned by conversation, education and trust.

  1. Communicate openly with your sons

It is not possible to supervise your children 24/7 so finding ways to establish and maintain trust is really valuable. Again, communication is key.


The Australian Government’s e-safety site is a fantastic parent resource so please take some time to peruse it. Furthermore, our eLearning Coordinator in the Junior School, Pauline Anthony, recently offered some practical advice on raising your son to be a safe, responsible and respectful digital citizen on our Understanding Boys blog.

The digital world can be challenging, but it is here to stay. We look forward to continuing to work with you to help your son use media and technology wisely so he can thrive in the digital world. 

Ross Featherston