No matter how old your child is, there is still value to maintaining safety for them on the online world, whether it is prevention of bullying or premature exposure to pornographic sites. Ten years ago, this would not have been so hard because most families shared only one home computer, which all family members use. Now, there are smartphones, tablets, laptops. There are so many devices where your children can have Internet access on.
What are the strategies available for managing Web access nowadays? Here are a few:
You know your child is growing up when they start hitting the social networking sites, however, they might still not understand the reasons to protect their own privacy or not to overshare details of their lives. Try to join any social networks they belong to and have conversations with them about the proper ways of interacting with their online friends. Help them set their privacy settings on Facebook and teach them that they should be confident and not seek external validation from strangers on their profile pages.
More importantly, always remember that the real world lies offline. Have fun weekend outings with your child outdoors: in the parks, zoos, swimming pools, restaurants and so on. Show your child that talking to people face-to-face is more important than chatting online. Do not turn to technology to babysit your child and guide your child to live a healthy lifestyle with limited amounts of time going online.
3. Enjoy the Internet safely with them.
Ultimately, this generation cannot get away from having to use the Internet at some point in our lives. To ease your child’s curiosity of this new world of wonders, enjoy the Internet safely with them. Go on fun websites and watch cool videos together. You can also show your kids what interesting websites you are looking at, why you use email or social networks and so on. Point out ‘weird’ images or links that might make your child a bit uncomfortable, tell them that those are porn or racist sites. Let your child know that it is okay for them to come to you for help and that you would not overreact.
Basic questions like “What is the coolest site right now?”, “Would you show me your favorite site?”, “What do you know about cyberbullying?” or “Have you seen anything online that made you feel awkward or uneasy?” should be asked. Establish an open, honest relationship with your child, and let them know that whatever they do, they can come to you, knowing that instead of being judged, you could guide and help them. If you feel that your child is not telling you straightforward answers, asking them direct questions like “Have you accidentally seen sexual pictures online?” or “Have any of your friends accessed pornography?” could help.
The Internet can be a great tool, however treat it with caution and do not let it become your child’s addiction or escape. . Tools like Net Nanny, Covenant Eyes and more could keep your children from surfing age-inappropriate content.
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