My Kids are out of Control Online
How do you tell your children to protect themselves from online predators? After all, they may know more than you about the internet. The internet can be a valuable learning tool for your kids. On the other hand, if left unsupervised, your child can easily be exposed to adult material. Parents today are working hard to keep a healthy family. Where do we find the time to supervise our children on the internet?
The internet has endless pipelines of information available to us. As adults, most of us have a good idea what’s really out there. Pretty well any topic you want to learn about in the world can be found online, even if you misspell it. Suppose your 5-8 year old child was looking for information as part of a school project. “Mom, I am doing my homework on the internet” Little did you know Sally was looking for school girl uniforms.
Screenshot taken from Google Search September 2, 2011
This is just one of thousands of keywords that may take your child down the wrong road. If 7 year old Sally is using the unfiltered internet to research topics, chances are she will find things she never dreamed of. How can you gain more control over what your child sees online?
How to Protect Children from Seeing Inappropriate Content
- Personal information– If you want to preselect “child friendly” sites for your child, visit them yourself first. Find out how much personal information is required. If you don’t agree it’s probably worth blocking.
- Social Network Precautions- Children under the age of 13 should not be permitted on social networks like Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. Instead there are social networks designed for young children such as What’s What, Togetherville, Webkinz, Club Penguin or Skid-e Kids.
- Password Secrecy– Even though kids are taught to share, internet passwords should not be shared with anyone. Children need to be urged never to share passwords. When your child is at a friend’s house teach them NOT to enter passwords into someone else’s computer that may remember it.
- Set Limits– Using set limits to time and location usage. This can be verbally discussed and controlled within Windows Live Family Safety 2011
- Warn Children- One of the first lessons we teach our kids is to never to talk to strangers. The same rule applies on the internet and cannot be stressed enough to young children. Children should not use their real names, addresses or arrange secret meetings with people they met online, unsupervised.
- Check History- If your child acts suspicious when you are watching them surf the net they may be viewing unsuitable content. If you suspect this is happening check the history log in the browser they are using. In Explorer Tools>internet options>General>Settings. Change it to 30 days so that you have a good timeline to check. Then to view history click “View files”
The Dangers Your Child Faces
Children are still physically and mentally maturing. As children grow they change. They seek identity, independence, friendship and confidence. The internet has changed the way children grow up. Moms and Dads need to be aware of the pros and cons so they can read the signs in a child when they are present.
Current internet statistics show that 77% of students are subjected to bullying. The means in which cyber bullying is delivered includes social networks, mobile phone devices, email and digital technologies. It is not to be taken lightly! Young children have committed suicide and murder in some cyber bullying situations. If you suspect your child is involved in ANY way, speaking to the school and authorities is highly recommended. HINT: As a parent, you need to be trustworthy to your child so they will not hide stuff from you.
Internet Sexual Predation
Recognizing that kids like to have their own space, it’s a fine line when it comes to intervention. If you are too aggressive they will hide from you. If you are not assertive enough they may lack the knowledge needed to detect Internet Sexual Predation. It may seem cool for 7 year old Sally to talk to grown ups she does not even know but IT’S NOT.
Please do not wait until it’s a crisis. Keep an eye on your young children while they surf online so you can bring the best side of the internet to them. It can provide some very educational material.
In a dark moment I ask, “How can anyone bring a child into this world?” And the answer rings clear, “Because there is no other world, and because the child has no other way into it.” ~Robert Brault
- Mashable’s 5 Safest Websites for Children
- Stats and history on the dangers children are faced with on the internet
- Are bullies bigger on the internet?
- Don’ let your kids fall prey to Internet Predators
- Parents need to be involved with their children’s internet experience