HOW TO KEEP YOUR CHILD SAFE WHILE ON THE INTERNET
The Internet has always been around as far as our children can tell. Today statistics say that as many as half of all kids up to age 8 use Internet-connected devices, 7.5 million kids under 13 use Facebook, and 30% of apps on parents’ phones are downloaded by their kids. Children are playing games, watching videos, or using Skype with far-off relatives. Kids who are old enough to swipe a screen can have access to the world!It is a well-known fact that children use gadgets that are more expensive and sophisticated than their parents.
While teaching children that being adept at using the Internet is in an important life skill that everyone has to master to be successful and productive members of society they should also be told that as with the real world, the Internet has its seamy and dangerous side too. The child is fascinated with the internet as he or she knows the internet is a magical entity capable of answering obscure questions. What they don’t know is anything about viruses, online privacy, phishing, social networking etiquette, and other internet safety and security issues. Since adults themselves have proven vulnerable to cyber-attacks, children cannot be expected to do any better – especially given that their sense of curiosity is far more developed and their sense of caution far less mature.
As for education the Internet can be a wonderful resource for kids. They can use it to research school reports, communicate with teachers and other kids, and play interactive games. Educationists say that we are in an interesting time in history when technology has enhanced models of teaching and learning hitherto unfathomed!
In some schools as early as kindergarten or first grade -children are being introduced to their teacher’s website using the PC or laptop in the school library while in others children use the internet towards the fifth or sixth grade for school projects and research. Many schools are giving each student their own device to access information, do research and homework, and engage their teachers and classmates in meaningful ways of learning. It is assumed that in future all schools will most certainly be wired for improving learning and teaching.
HOW CAN THE PARENTS KEEP THEIR CHILDREN SAFE?
As education literally starts at home, parents are the first educators and so have a huge responsibility in in keeping their children safe in their cyber world. Recent studies show that parents now buy smartphones for their children when they are as young as 5 years old. The early use of both smartphones and tablets is boosting the risk of malware infections and SMS fraud, which make many victims, among users who are still only learning to read.
For school-age children these risks include things that they might find upsetting, disgusting or otherwise uncomfortable, if they come across them accidentally. This might include pornography,images of cruelty to animals, and real or simulated violence. It is an established fact that the internet abounds with fake or false info and nothing the internet offers can be verified or fact checked for accuracy. Children should be told that not everything they read online is true although it may appear so and thatthe internet makes it easy for someone to be anyone else in the world. They should be taught that the person chatting with them on the other side may not be the 14 year old kid he claims to be. It may in fact be someone far older who is out to do him or her great harm.
PARENTS SHOULD BE GOOD ROLE MODELS
Parents have to scrupulously follow rules they set for their children as the child will always do what the parent does and not what the Parent says!
Parents are to be as computer savvy as their kids at least for their kids’ sake, as long as the child is very young. They need to have a knowledge of the computer and take advantage of what technology has to offer. They should at least know as much as their children. Only then can they check the child’s browser history to know where the child goes online, and check those sites regularly. They can also use parental controls offered by the Internet service provider or through blocking and filtering software. Most computers come standard with them. Parental control password is to be protected. The child should not be given the password, but the parent can use it to unlock websites that may be blocked on accident.
THEY SHOULD ALSO REVERT TO SOME GOOD OLD PARENTING
Children who are at least seven years of age should never be allowed to use a computer alone and strict rules should be imposed for older children who should be allowed use of computers, tablets and IPhones only when the parent is around or is set time limits and web restrictions .Children should be told ‘If you wouldn’t do it face to face - Don’t do it online’ ‘Just because you feel protected by the apparent distance a screen gives between you and the person you’re talking to, you must remember that online is still the real world’ so the child is careful with personal information. If the child is using social networking websites online, they have to enter in their age. They could easily lie themselves or they could be talking to someone else who is. The internet makes it easy to create a new, false identity.
The individuals who lie about their ages are internet predators. They are the ones who target children. Pornography, questionable characters, hate groups, and misinformation flourish online. Strangers, predators, and cyber-bullies all target children, and their work is simplified when screen names reveal age, gender, or hometown. False identities are easy to create for internet predators and making new friends online is very easy, convenient and exciting for children. If posts aren't marked as private, personal information of the child can be displayed to an unrestricted audience of readers some of whom may be a threat to the child’s physical safety and emotional wellbeing. Law enforcement agencies and Police say that children whose Internet activity isn't monitored are most at risk for being exploited and it is very difficult to identify on line predators until it is too late.
NOT TOO MUCH OF PARENTAL CONTROL
As the saying goes” Restriction ultimately leads to rebellion” the child should be told in such a way that he or she understands the risks associated with irresponsible behavior and at the same time has fun while learning. Children should not feel that parentsdon’t trust them and arespying on them all the time which makes them feel letdown. A researcher in online child education says” when educating children it’s good to use material or images, like web comics to get the point across as that way they’re more likely to listen.
Engaging in age-appropriate open discussions about the child’s online activities will encourage young cyber minds to learn the benefits and realize the dangers of the internet.”The child should be told to avoid clicking links and not respond to nor open emails when they come from someone they don't know or appear suspicious. Kids should be told never to share passwords and if they did so erroneously they should change passwords immediately. They should make sure that they Log Out of computers when they are done with their work.
The parent can also buy parental control software and web blockers that put proper barriers on web surfing. There are also devices set to forget the wifi access code so that the child cannot get online without either parent present. There are some search engines that are designed to only return kid-friendly results like KidsKlick, KidTopia, KidRex.org which children may safely make use off.
HOW TO KEEP TEENS SAFE
It is a different ball game for teens. With a phone in the pocket, a typical teen has the ability to spend hours or even days—interacting with his or her peers, completely unfettered by parental supervision. It is believed that a lot of nasty stuff in the teenage world happens at night .Alone in their rooms it is believed that teens are into cyber bullying, exchange insults at each other, even sext each other and start conversation with strangers which eventually leads the teen to self-harm and destruction. Mid to late teens need to remember that everything they do over the web is captured forever and could come back to haunt them later in life.
This is especially true when they are on their own attending job interviews or trying to take on leadership roles. Parents should give the teen an idea of what internet dangers are all about. Facebook depression, sexting, pedophiles, e-threats, scammers and exposure to inappropriate content are the fallout of internet’s dark and sleazy side. Teens should be advised to understand that messages, pictures, or videos sent via the Internet or smartphones are never truly private or anonymous. In seconds they can be out there for all of the world to see. If a compromising image of your teen goes public or gets sent to others, your teen could be at risk of humiliation, embarrassment, and public ridicule.
Even worse, it could damage your teen's self-image and possibly lead to depression and other mental health issues or even death. One problem that many parents face is checking up on their teens online. It is no secret that most teens know their way around a computer nowadays. Most kids use technology differently than the parents do. They're playing games online and sending texts on their phones at an early age, and most teens have devices that keep them constantly connected to the Internet. Many are logged on to Facebook or Tumblr and chatting or texting all day. Even sending email or leaving a voicemail can seem old-school to them.
Their knowledge of the digital world can be intimidating to parents. The parent cannot check the internet history of the computer if the teen clears it on a daily basis. Although a way out seems to be parental controls there are a few ways to bypass parental controls on phones and computers through the use of virtual private networks, administrator account access, and mobile factory resets. Wikihow and YouTube teach them to do it in style step by step! An exasperated parent laments” Every time I set up and activate parental controls, my son somehow defeats them. I use medical terminology for passwords that he could never guess, but each time I come back to the computer the parental controls are turned off and he resets the password. They think it's funny and it's now become a game.
A lot of good parental controls do if kids can figure out a way around them! .
As teens' decision-making skills, judgment, and ideas about privacy are still being formed itcan be hard for them to grasp the permanent consequences of their impulsive interactions. One of the top responsibilities of parents is to teach their kids how to take responsibility for their own safety and their own actions. So it is advisable to talk to the teen first about the dangers of the internet and how badly it will affect their future if something goes wrong because of their irresponsibility and brashness.Parents taking an active role in the teens Internet activities will help ensure that the teen benefits from the wealth of valuable information it offers without being exposed to any potential dangers.
They should alsotake an interest in the sites the teen is visiting and the people with whom he is chatting as some shady characters pose as kids or teens in chat rooms to seem less threatening. Teens are to be warned never to give out personal information such as phone number, name, address, school name, etc. or agree to meet in-person anyone he or she meets in a chat room, or share any photographs.
The parents must urge to introduce any new "friends" they meet online and to tell if they ever feel uncomfortable about conversations that take place. Most important the parents should talk to them about the dangers of interacting with strangers online and remind them that people online often don't tell the truth. Law enforcement and police also recommend that parents maintain access to young kids' online accounts and randomly check their email.So the parent can get through to their kids by having open conversations about personal responsibility, personal boundaries, and how to resist peer pressure.
In conclusion parents are not only the child’s best online protection but also the child’s online mentor and so the responsibility in making their children productive and fruitful individuals rests on them.