Certainly one the biggest worries these days for the parent’s of children using the computer to surf the Internet is how can I be sure my child is safe?
If you have a child who uses the Internet, you are probably a parent who is worried for your child’s safety; and with good reason. As we continue to move rapidly into this age of computers and information, the negative influences of every aspect of life are also finding their way to the Internet. Making sure our kids are safe on the Internet environment is just as important as teaching our children to be safe in their day to day life.
Let’s begin by acknowledging that just like you would not let your child walk the streets of an unknown part of town, don’t let your children venture into parts unknown on the Web. “Walk” with them in their journey. Guide their choices and promote their awareness of interesting sites that offer quality information and appropriate family fun. Of course this means that you too need to be Internet knowledgeable. You might be surprised to learn how many parents have no idea how to even log on while their young children have become expert surfers. Parents need to know how to navigate the Web.
The door to safety is awareness and the key is education. So here at Parenting Issues we have compiled a short list of suggestions to parents to help educate children and increase their awareness regarding surfing the Web.
1. If your child already knows never to talk with strangers on the street, then accepting that one must be careful talking to strangers on the net is a familiar concept that makes sense. In that vein, make it a rule never to give out their address, phone number or even their real name over the net to anyone who they have never met in person.
2. Kids should know never to agree to meet anyone in person that they have met on the net. If they are unsure, certainly discussing it with their mom or dad is a must.
3. Any vulgar or obscene language is a sure tip off that the person at the other end is up to no good. Warn your children to avoid this kind of contact.
4. Any time your child begins to feel uncomfortable about something they have read or seen on-line, encourage them to discuss it with you. Open discussions between children and parents promotes healthy curiosity and an interest in learning.
5. Establish trust with your child. Ultimately that is where it is going to lead. You and your children must know that you can trust them to make good decisions and that they agree to respect your concerns and promote your trust in them.
Finally… it can happen. Your child could find her/himself in a site deemed for adults only. Reaching an understanding in advance that if this should happen they are to just leave. There are thousands of terrific sites on the Web… our kids should know to just move on and find something more appropriate.
These are but a few suggestions we offer you as a concerned parent. I am sure that many of you have already come up with a plan to keep your kids safe on the net. If you have some great idea you would like to share, send them along to me and I will post them on Parenting Issues. As a community of parents we can help each other to be more effective parents of healthy children.