I believe that the largest planet is the online planet. The immense benefits that we enjoy from web have also given us some strong reasons to worry about.
Kids exposed to web can easily be prey to all the ill effects like cyber bullying or exposure to the other inappropriate content that is out there in bulk. Keeping kids away from web is like depriving them of opportunities and a lot of learning so that is not even there in the options to keep your kids safe. But what can be done is to take preventive measures, be aware, stay updated with technologies their benefits as well as the misuses that are being done and a lot more!
This guide will help parents to understand the complex nature of internet safety and how they can protect their kids in this age of internet from all the ill effects and lead them to use it ethically.
Risks/Early threat that child might be at risk over web:
Here, child can either be the culprit or the victim. In both the cases parents need to acknowledge the problem, speak to the child and handle the situation with sensitivity. Check the points below that can help you recognize the signs of the same:
1. Spending long time over Computers/Web: This is the most common thing that happens. When kids are exposed to inappropriate content, they tend to spend long time over computers. Similarly, in the case of cyber bullying, the one doing it may spend elongated hours over computer. Parents should be conscious of the fact that a child may hide the pornographic files on diskettes from them. This may be especially true if the computer is used by other family members.
2. You find inappropriate content from the computer: Chances are that if you’ll try to scan the computer you may get files that your kid should not be viewing. The other thing is to check browser history. Although, kids are pro with tech and they have their ways but sleuthing once in a while does no harm.
3. Change in behavior: This is more common among teens. Once they are involved in any such activity, they tend to get distant from family. You can observe a sudden change in behavior in terms of not speaking much, staying away from the family members, staying alone, etc. this sudden change can be because someone is harassing your kid online or maybe because they are involved in some wrong activity over web.
4. The child turns the computer monitor off or quickly changes the screen on the monitor when you come into the room. A child looking at pornographic images or having sexually explicit conversations does not want you to see it on the screen.
5. The child is using an on-line account belonging to someone else: Even if you don't subscribe to an on-line service or Internet service, your child may meet an offender while on-line at a friend's house or the library. Most computers come preloaded with on-line and/or Internet software. Online offenders will sometimes provide potential victims with a computer account for communications with them.
What Should You do as Parents?
1. Make Rules: It is important to stick with the rules. Set rules for kids. It’s true that kids need boundaries and, as much as they fight you on it, count on you to set them. Set a timer for online activity. Use monitoring software that tracks where they are going and what they are doing.
2. Limit Time for Internet Access: This is the most important thing. Set time limit for kids to use internet and make sure kids abide by them.
3. Make Sure Kids are Under the Eye of Some Adult While They Use Internet: By doing so you can keep a track of their activities. Also, if something happens in your presence you can guide your kid. To make this happen, make sure kids are operating system in places where adults sit with them. Don’t set up the systems in their rooms.
4. Use of Parental Control Softwares: This is essential to add a layer of safety in your kids’ online life. These Softwares have the ability to filter out unwanted content, limit screen time, and in some cases monitor social media interactions.
5. What you can do in the Community to Keep Your Kid Safe: this aspect can be a little difficult. Kids use internet not just at home but at schools, their friends’ places and on their cells which means anywhere they feel like. So make sure the schools have an “appropriate use policy”. This list of policies should list all the dos and don’ts that you must know about and if you feel it doesn’t cover something bring it to the table. And talk to their friends’ parents and ask them if they have set some web usage rules at home and if their internet activity is being monitored by some adult.
6. Teach Them to Protect their Privacy: You can’t expect kids to know it all of tech just because they feel “it’s their thing”. While they won't fully understand the consequences of revealing personal information online, you should still make sure your children know:
- Never to give their name, phone number, e-mail address, password, postal address, school, or picture without your permission.
- Not to open e-mail from people they don't know without your permission.
- Not to respond to hurtful or disturbing messages.
- Not to get together with anyone they "meet" online.
- To always let you know immediately if they find something scary or threatening on the Internet.
Some Other Tips:
- Get your game up with all these technology. Learn of the new social media sites your kids are using and stay in touch with your kids about their online activity. In a very friendly manner try to keep a knack of what all they do online to make sure they don’t do anything wrong as well as so that you know if your kids are safe on-line.
- Understand that kids do get under influence of others and with the times we are living in there are are chances that they do something under peer pressure. To keep things safe, be the listening ear and understanding parent. Know about the company your kids have. And make sure you develop that trust that if something happens they can approach you without any hesitation or fear.
- If your child continually spends too much time online or ignores rules about what they can and cannot do, it may be time to pull the plug on the Internet as a sort of "virtual grounding." Although your child may disagree, they can survive without it. Make sure you’re clear about why you’re doing it and how long it will last.
- It’s important that your child knows what your expectations are, understands the basics of Internet safety, and feels comfortable talking to you about problems and concerns so talk to your children frequently about the issue.
- What children see on the screen stays on their mind for long. Teach children about pornography, exploitive content, excessive violence and other issues that concern you so that they know how they have to respond when they see it.
Resources That You Must Check:
Share your views on the issue! How do you keep your kids safe in this internet age?