The Internet opens up a world of possibilities for children. It can be a valuable educational tool, a means of communication, a social network, or a medium for exploring the world in your very own home. On the other hand, the Internet can also be a dangerous and potentially damaging place. The kind of experience your child has online comes down to how they are educated and prepared.
Keeping Your Children Safe Online
Children are introduced to the Internet from a very young age so it’s important to start educating them early on. Get involved and stay involved with your children’s education when it comes to the Internet. The type of involvement and the amount of control you have will change as your children develop. As they get older it is natural to establish a new control dynamically. This usually means learning to let go of some of your control.
With preschool-aged children using the Internet is more likely a joint parent-child experience. This means that as a parent you can monitor your child’s Internet use hands-on. There are many sites that are great for young children and their parents to explore together. This is a good time to start talking to your children about Internet safety just as you would road safety or stranger danger.
As they get older they naturally become more independent and their need to explore that independence grows. At this stage, you still need to monitor their use closely. It is important to shelter your children from the dangerous and disturbing sites they might come across online. You want their Internet experience to be positive and educational.
This is a time to let them develop a certain degree of independence however you should be sure they are safe at all times. If you can’t be with them online you might consider filtering Internet content with a parent control package. This ensures your children do not encounter sites that you deem inappropriate.
This is a time where your child looks more towards outside influences for information and validation. Friends become more important and influential in your child’s life. Peer pressure often begins to surface in children in their adolescence. This time of independent exploration is important to development however when it comes to the Internet you should be keeping a close eye on their use.
Always keep the computer in a public area such as the lounge or kitchen. This way your child is able to explore the Internet independently in a safe way. Internet filtering is also very important at this stage as is monitoring time spent online. Internet filtering is the best way you can ensure your child is not exposed to content you feel is dangerous.
This is perhaps the most at-risk age group when it comes to children and the Internet. This is a period in which teens become more independent and desire the freedom to make decisions regarding their lives. They are developing physically, emotionally, and mentally and they begin to move away from their parents towards their friends. This is a time where teens will explore chat rooms and begin to explore sexual content. This can be potentially damaging for a number of reasons.
Chat rooms are dangerous places that must be used with extreme caution. Your teenager should be educated in Internet safety and there should be clear guidelines for Internet use. Work with your teen to set up strategies for dealing with online issues. Internet monitoring is also an option and it will give you peace of mind when it comes to your teen’s online safety.