LA MOM MAGAZINE interviews Sam Pemberton on keeping our kids safe online

By Sam Pemberton
Sam PembertonQ: What are some of the best ways for parents to keep their kids safe online at home?
A: Talking to young people often and openly is the best way to help keep them safe online. Engage with them about what they do online and how they use digital resources – are they active on online forums, social media, or gaming sites? Take an interest in what sites and applications they enjoy using, and explore these sites and apps together. It’s important to be positive about this process and try not to overreact about any concerns you have so that you can open up a dialog with them.

Setting boundaries for online use is also important, as is agreeing what is deemed acceptable behavior. Involve your child in helping to establish these boundaries by asking them what they think is appropriate online and for their age group – or even other age groups. This will ensure that they feel a part of the decision-making process and that their views have been considered fairly.

As a parent, ensure that you understand the different privacy controls and reporting functions available across various social media platforms. Set up these privacy controls with your child across their accounts.

Q: What is digital citizenship and how can schools and parents teach children to be good digital citizens?
A: Digital citizenship refers to the education of young people to develop the skills to lead a safe, ethical and responsible digital lifestyle. A whitepaper developed by Impero and the Digital Citizenship Institute recommends that digital citizenship should be taught as both a stand-alone topic and as an integrated part of the curriculum. Accepting that the online world is a natural part of young people’s lives, and affording them the opportunity to learn how to navigate it safely, is the first step in fostering a culture of good digital citizenship.

Monitoring their use to identify risk helps schools and parents better help young people and educate them about responsible online behavior.

Q: What kinds of phrases, apps or web sites should parents (or schools) be wary of? What should parents do if they find out their child, for example, viewed a radicalization web site, or downloaded an app used for sexting?
A: It’s important when approaching a child who has viewed or accessed something inappropriate, that your tone isn’t accusatory or alarmed. For schools, responding to an incident should follow the school’s own policies and procedures. Schools and parents should plan how they will begin the conversation, and remain calm in order to control any reaction. Offer support, ask questions, and provide a space for the young person to explain why they accessed the site or engaged in the activity in question. At this point, the parent or school employee may need to offer counter-narratives or education on the subject, but be prepared that these difficult discussions can take time and that long-term discussion, with follow-up, is usually required.

Q: What are some resources to help parents learn more about internet safety and how to teach their children responsible digital citizenship?
A: White paper: Digital Citizenship: a holistic primer –


Raising a Digital Child:

Common Sense Media:


Impero Software:

Sam Pemberton is the CEO of Impero, a company providing state-of-the-art software solutions, designed to protect children in our digital age. A father of two and married to a high school teacher, Sam is passionate about safeguarding young people and believes that the key to online safety is education, with the support of technology.