Kids & the Internet, Online Safety Hazards & Tipsby EJ on 09/20/13
Image credit to Clare Bloomfield / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
My kids became aware of the computer and their existence in our home from an early age. They were aware of the fact that the internet was MY place of business, as I run an online store right from the comfort of our home. As such, they quickly gained a unique perspective of what purpose the internet could serve. For our family, the Internet provides an online presence for my company and is a source of income for us.
Our eight year old, in particular, has realized that the Internet is where everything is, from her favorite cartoons to online games and music, to various topics she loves to research. She has discovered, through her parents and through her friends, the existence of YouTube, Facebook and of course, the search bars that will take her basically anywhere she wants to go.
Our daughter loves to learn. She is constantly in search of new information on prehistoric animals, fossils, and paleontology. The Internet helps her get the information she wants immediately. From our daughter's perspective, the Internet must seem incredibly convenient and amazing. While the Internet is both of these things, it also poses some tremendous hazards to kids that parents cannot ignore.
Use a security program to protect your kids and family from online threats.
Don't share passwords with your kids.
I learned then that little cartoon horses and dinosaur upgrades for her farm and Jurassic Park app are impossible for her to resist. So I changed the password and set up the parental controls so that she doesn't even have the option to make purchases.
There's also the issue of cyber crime. Kids can fall victim to cybercrimes involving stolen passwords but if kids don't have the password, they can't share it with strangers. For older kids, parents may have to take a different approach. Parents should have a conversation with their kids about never sharing passwords, not even with their friends, and what issues might result from sharing passwords.Build a foundation of Internet trust with your kids.
Most teenagers these days have their own computers and their own passwords for computer access, email, and social networking sites. In my opinion, allowing a child of any age to maintain their own personal online presence without any parental access is a bad idea. Parents should consider entering into an agreement with their teenagers that both parties, the parents and the children, will know the passwords to their devices and social networking sites.
Kids must understand that the Internet is definitely not a place where they can hide, assume other identities or bully others. In return, there are plenty of people bent on committing crimes, stealing information, bullying others and contacting children that use the Internet to do so. If your kids know the issues and know that you're concerned for their safety and that you are alert regarding their online use, the family is less likely to run into problems. Additionally, the family will better deal with issues that do come up, if everyone is on the same page regarding online safety. In short, families have to talk very specifically about online dangers and build a foundation of Internet trust with one another.
Supervision is the best protection against online threats to children.
While security programs, parental controls and passwords are all good tools to use to protect your kids from online hazards to their safety and well-being, nothing beats parental supervision. Parents have to play an active, continuous role in protecting their children from online harm.
With the increasing number of ways for kids to gain easy access to the Internet, parents have to be on high alert and establish a set of rules for the family. If you can supervise your child's online use, then do it. Be consistent.
Further Reading: Advice for Parents on Keeping Children Safe Online.
Disclosure: This is a Collaborative PR Editorial with the purpose of spreading awareness about issues and products that address online safety for children.