There is no consensus on whether to limit – or to encourage – your kids’ desire to use the Internet. Proponents of prohibitive measures reckon that the network can cause harmful dependence and is full of unsolicited information.
In their understanding, the Internet can cause problems with live communication, stimulates the child’s desire for a ‘locked’ way of life. Others believe there are many training programs for children online.
With proper parental control, technology works for the benefit of the child’s development. And if the child behaves aggressively, does not want to communicate or listen, the reason is not that he spends much time in virtual reality, but rather the way this time is spent.
Those and others are right in their own way – on the Internet, there are many opportunities and risks for kids and adolescents. And this is what the parent should do – explain and warn, what expects the child online. This is your duty as a parent, to prepare the child to the virtual reality, as you prepare him to school and adult life.
- 97 % of kids under 4 years use mobile devices. The majority are using them more than once per day.
- 85 % of moms admit to using tech to keep their kids occupied.
- 71 % of US teens have more than 1 social media account.
- 8-12 years old kids spent 6-8 hours on Social Media.
- 68% of kids say their parents never check their online activity.
- 70 % of kids claim they accidentally encountered porn while browsing and doing homework.
- 1 in 5 youth ages 10 to 17 received a sexual solicitation and was approached online.
- 1 in 3 children has been a victim of cyberbullying.
- Teens whose parents talked to them about online safety are less likely to consider meeting face to face with someone they met on the Internet (12% vs. 20%).
Some of the numbers are quite high and prompt to the decision that parents participation in child virtual life is mandatory.
What should you tell your kids about the Internet?
Raising a child in a virtual world is a long and consistent process. Before talking about virtual behavior, parents should learn what the child’s interests are in the network. It is important that there is trust between them – both in real and virtual life.
If your child starts using the Internet soon or has already started (browse, download something, play) – be sure to explain him the difference between “right” and “wrong”, “good” and “bad”. “Dangerous” and “safe” means the same online as in real life.
The Internet network also has hooligans, scammers, deceivers, people with bad intentions, and of course, it is important for your child to know about this.
Note that if the child is already a teenager – it is still not too late to discuss with him all these tips.
1. Do not publish what you later regret.
To the child: everything that you publish on the web, works on the creation of your image. It is difficult or impossible to remove it later. Some posts in Facebook may affect your future, cause a denial of work or entry into a prestigious school/university.
Parents: Talk openly with children and explain the consequences of typical mistakes in social networks. If you find a potentially dangerous post in social networks, ask the child (or others if someone wrote on his “wall”) to delete the entry, and if this is not possible, “complain” on a publication.
2. Protect your online personality in social networks.
To the child: know that a bad person or even another child can use access to your account or your entries “for friends” in order to steal your virtual identity. They can make fun of others on your behalf. So think up strong passwords and ask adults to properly set up your profile.
Parents: Use the power of social network security settings to protect the kid. Teach your child to block suspicious and unwanted users, use two-factor authentication, befriend only those whom he knows in real life.
3. Do not be fooled by e-mails
To the child: bad people, and often even whole companies use e-mail in order to get your passwords or use the link that can lead to a site with viruses. Do not believe blindly everything that is written in emails. Know that normal services and companies do not ask for your passwords and other personal data.
Parents: Teach children to ignore emails with strange requests; Check references in the email before clicking on them; Never write passwords, logins, bank cards numbers in letters; Complain on suspicious messages to the technical support.
4. Know about cyberbullying and be able to cope with it.
To the child: Bullying from schools and playgrounds moved to the Internet. Classmates, former friends, and even strangers can try to offend you online. Therefore, you must be ready for this and be able to resist provocations. If you are hunted online- share it with your parents. If this is not possible, talk to psychologists at school.
Parents: Explain to the child that in case of cyberbullying there is nothing embarrassing (for him). Encourage him to discuss these cases with you; Report cases of cyberbullying against your child to the site support, and in case of aggression – to the State Police; Block those who are virtually attacking your child; Teach your kid to ignore those who try to abuse him.
5. Behave online as in real life.
To the child: It may seem that you remain anonymous online and your actions will go unpunished, but it is not true. Know: most social networks and sites cooperate with the police, and you always leave technical “traces”. Behave yourself online the same as in real life – worthy, law-abiding. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Parents: Explain to the child that, up to a certain age, for the sake of his safety, you track his activity online, check his social network activity, etc. – and, most important, really DO it. Explain the reality of the consequences of acts committed online. If a child accidentally or intentionally became involved in cyberbullying against others – stop it immediately.