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The advent of the Internet has been one of the most defining changes for not only modern Western culture, but the world. This tool not only provides instant answers to prevailing questions, but day-to-day important information that helps us function better and more efficiently. Don’t know how to change the oil in your car? …There is a YouTube tutorial for that. Not sure how to make a tomato tart? …
There are a plethora of recipes just waiting for you to click. While the Internet has redefined how we live as adults for the better, it has simultaneously forced newer generations to see, understand, and interact with the outside world in a completely new way. While research, homework, and connecting with other people have never been easier or better, Internet safety risks for children and teens are ever present.
Children and teens are the most vulnerable to a plethora of possible issues. The most obvious is an obsession with social media and the need to constantly connect to Facebook or Instagram or another site to compare the number of likes with one’s popularity. But there are worse evils lurking in the depths of cyberspace. These evils include cyberbullying through email or on social media; age-inappropriate content displayed without warnings; predators that link to the young through social media or other sharing sites; or kids and teens themselves revealing much more information about themselves than they realize.
Perhaps a child innocently shares information such as his or her address or when his or her parents are away from home or where he or she goes to school. But sometimes the information is more risqué – one poor choice of photograph can linger on the Internet or cell phones for the eternity of a child’s school years.
Internet safety for kids needn’t be overwhelming
Parents should begin with an honest conversation about personal and online safety for kids and continue regular talks about making good choices even in bad situations. The more conversations and the more supportive presence offered by the parent, the more responsible behaviors the child will exhibit. But parents cannot keep a constant eye on a child, especially a teenager.
There are online programs designed specifically to help parents protect their children, with Internet safety in mind. Such programs – some are free while others require a subscription – educate parents and children about how to behave online, as well as explaining the warning signs of a bad situation. Some programs even offer the ability to monitor the child’s online activity through data reports and sites visited. These same programs will coach parents through dealing with the issue.
Parents know how important online safety is for kids and that they cannot always be there to watch over the decisions their kids make. Preventing bad online choices means preventing bad reputations, avoiding rejection from colleges or jobs, and staying physically and mentally safe. Good parenting means knowing how to approach your child’s online activity. Social media site pictures are often never fully erased, thus can linger or define your child’s reputation forever.
It was expected by many in the early days of internet use that this new medium would open up incredible opportunities to exchange information, conduct research, and generally raise the level of global communication in a useful manner. At the same time, the Internet has created vulnerabilities, whether they are due to ill-advised privacy settings, predatory approaches, or other unexpected aspects that may harm the personal privacy of children.
Some individuals suggest that there is a need to allow kids to gain their own experience of various online settings without interference, but this surely cannot be applicable at all times. While still at a young age, children need guidance on all aspects of life, and this is no less true for internet safety for kids. Both parents and kids needs transparent and open discussion – even in the children’s earlier years – that will not only lead to improved safety but also increases communication bonding, trust, and honesty for both parties.
Safe surfing can undoubtedly be aided by spending a lot of time exhaustively researching all the aspects of Internet safety. However, here are the basic tips that are recommended:
- Installation of quality parental control software.
- Inform the children about the installation of the internet safety system, explaining that it has been installed to maintain their online privacy and protection.
Discussing internet safety for kids openly with your children. Tackle any issues they raise and try to determine and resolve any undesirable aspects of their Internet use.