The first time the Internet was made available to me, I was already in high school. It definitely made homework and research a lot easier for me, which made me consider it more as a luxurious tool than a necessity. Currently, it’s apparent that the Internet has been made available to a younger sphere, and by younger I mean even two-year-olds have access to it, which I find really disturbing.
It’s fair to say that parents made this available to children so they will be exposed to the wonders of the Internet, along with the education that they can get out of it. However, with these wonders, it is also important to remember that the Internet is also very dangerous.
It is a responsibility for an adult, mostly parents, to make sure that children in the household are safe online. It is vital for a parent to know more than their children when it comes to moderating the content they see. If that’s not the case, parents should at least try to learn how to go around a computer to block inappropriate sites and make sure that the child doesn’t find a way to get around it.
Learning how to use a computer and other gadgets to moderate what your children can access online is just the first step to making the Internet safe for children.
The next step to this is giving them limited time of usage. Let’s use YouTube as an example. If your child is spending more than two hours watching YouTube videos, then you’re doing something wrong. An hour would already be considered too much. Letting them access YouTube in the first place should not even be an option because that is a community filled with unfiltered language which children may be exposed to. If you’re going to let them access the site, you need to pay full attention to the things they watch because it’s fair to assume that all content on YouTube has a PG rating.
Educating your children about the dangers of the Internet is also important because this will prevent them from accessing inappropriate sites. This will also give them a little bit of awareness about the appropriate way of Internet usage for their age. Make sure they stay away from Social Networking Sites as much as possible because this will make them more vulnerable to Internet predators. You have to understand how these sites work first before you let your children sign up, and even if they do, you need to find a way to moderate it by having access to their account.
After learning all these things, you also need to ask yourself the following questions:
Do they need it? Children get so easily used to these kinds of things that when they’re exposed to it, it is very difficult to undo. The Internet is educational, but if there are things that you can teach them yourself, then do so. Don’t rely on the Internet to do the things that you can’t do.
How do I supervise them and the content they see online? If they’re only using it for entertainment, then that’s already a big no. We already have the television for that. Children are very impressionable that it’s almost monkey see, monkey do. I don’t mean that in an offensive way. You need to devote a good amount of time in order to supervise and explain the content they see online.
What did they learn from the Internet? Assessing the things that your children learn from the Internet is one key factor in deciding whether you should let them continue using it or not, because while it is a place where education is unlimited, it is also a place where stupidity is very, very contagious.
If you can’t do any of the things mentioned in this article, then here’s an alternative answer to make the Internet safe for Children: Don’t let them use it at all until they fully understand the dangers it could present.
I am all for these advancements in technology and how we’re letting children be involved with it, but I don’t think we should make them feel that the Internet is a necessity for people their age.
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Header Image: Christopher Furlong via Getty Images. Retrieved from CNN.