The Internet is a natural part of young people’s lives today. Almost every child lives much of their social life on the Internet. They play games, seek information for school projects, watch movies, listen to favorite artists, get in touch with new friends and discover new things.
On your child’s screen, you may see something that looks very innocent, like a nice pink Barbie world where you can paint nails, design clothes or style hair (this seems to be very popular among 6-years old girls). But as an adult, you probably know already that not every site on the Internet is appropriate for your child.
Luckily, there are tools that you can use to keep younger children from finding the darker side of Internet. The security software you are using might contain a tool for that already. It is called parental control and helps you set up different types of Internet profiles for your children and teenagers.
Blocking certain pages might not be the right tactic if you have older children. They may have Internet access on their phones and know how to enter these pages anyway if they want to. This is when communication and a willingness to learn matters most. Finding how young people use the Internet on a daily basis can give you insight into the choices your children are making.
For example, I have a friend who is a father to a teenage girl. Every time he goes to his daughters room, he asks, “How many people are with us in this room?” even if he sees his daughter sitting there alone with her computer. He has realized his daughter is probably chatting with several friends at all times.
As a parent, you might think that you know what your children are doing on the Internet, and maybe that is the case. But I would urge you to at least raise the subject with your children on a regular basis, if they are old enough to understand. Find out which social networks they are on. How many emails, texts or Facebook messages do they send a day? What do they do when they come across something that makes them feel uncomfortable?
It’s impossible to know everything your child does online. But by being open and available, your child will feel safe to reach out to when it really matters.
CC image credit: lu_lu
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