Keep Your Kids Safe On The Internet – Technology is everywhere. Computers and smartphones give us easy access to games, chats, and countless pieces of information influencing every aspect of our lives.
When we think about the safety of children in the online world, most of the time, we relate this to cell phone monitoring. And some parents do, but not enough. A study on teenagers’ internet safety showed that 75% said their parents never monitored their use.
In addition to computers, other electronics also need monitoring. Children and teens chat, share images, and watch videos on cell phones and video games.
Most games, when downloaded on these devices, come with the option of chatting between players — and these games can often be played with rather random companions.
What kind of technology should your child access? What technology allows you to access monitoring? Do you really monitor or ban it? Would your child know what to do if they came across inappropriate content or if someone asked for information about them in chats?
Internet use among children is rampant. A study by McAfee (the antivirus systems company) found that approximately 80% of children under 5 years old already use the internet, and that 90% of teenagers also use it.
The study even showed that 70% of teens hide their online behavior from their parents (e.g. deleting history or meeting someone in person who initially met online ).
Why do teenagers do this despite saying otherwise? This is called a personal fable . They feel unique and invincible and insist that nothing dangerous can happen to them.
Of course, there are pros and cons in this information-filled environment and in this relatively new virtual world we live in. As a society, we need to balance the fear of what’s out there with its usefulness. And, as parents, we must educate our children.
What should we consider?
Trying to keep our kids safe is nothing new. Trying to keep our kids safe in the virtual world is a new and growing concept.
On the one hand, the internet can be quite educational—it gives us access to unlimited information. Schools often subscribe to online math, spelling, or foreign language programs.
We can see photos of Mars, experience a rainforest, or see a country far away in real-time. For children with learning and anxiety disorders, some studies show good results with social media.
On the other hand, there is a high risk of exposure to inappropriate content (the average age of first exposure to internet pornography is 11 years).
Today’s youth are involved with an increasing amount of cyberbullying (20% of teens said they have experienced it).
Playing violent games online has been linked to aggression and misbehavior. Also, spending too much time with electronics takes children away from more active activities. I recently heard the brilliant phrase, “More turns, fewer apps”.
What should we do?
Parents need to be aware of what their children are doing on the internet and should monitor how they spend time online.
Research suggests that children’s use and attitudes change depending on their parents’ attitudes, engagement, and follow-up.
Be proactive. Be aware of the inherent dangers of the internet, as well as the addictive attraction it exerts.
Did you know that there is internet addiction? In South Korea, there is a boot camp for teenagers who are addicted to it!
Awareness and monitoring can be done in different ways.
- Use the privacy settings (especially on social media) and the parental control function (even in video games), and check your browser history (make sure your child hasn’t turned it off). Think about the benefits and risks of what you will and will not block. Consider your child’s age, developmental level, curiosity, technological ability, and behavior toward friends.
- Think about putting a computer at home. If you have a laptop, set rules for when and where it can be used. If your kids use smartphones, be clear about what they can do with it. I just learned that a friend has a specific cell phone capable of putting in password protection settings.
- Be transparent and open with your child. View content online together. Educate him about which sites he can use. And depending on the situation, share your concerns with him.
- Ask your child’s school how they protect children from the potential dangers of using the internet. Federal law now requires schools that receive funding to block inappropriate content on school computers and have a secure internet plan.
We will never be able to monitor our children 100% of the time. But we also need to get our heads out of the sand and take the necessary precautions to keep our children safe from this constantly changing technological world.
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