Do you have kids? Do you have Internet at home? Then you might want to read this!
One colleague of ours suggested to make an article about this issue because so many of us are parents and can deal with the anxiety of our young child surfing in this anonymous world.
We as parents often worry about our child surfing on the Web. We often hear about all the negative aspects of the Internet. There’s no moment where you don’t hear anything about how phones and the internet have terrible effect on our children. Here is a list of some dangers of the Internet for your child:
- Exposure of inappropriate content.
- Internet addiction.
- Theft of personal information.
No wonder we are so afraid for our children!
What can we do as a parent, to prevent any kind of danger that may happen to our child who uses the Internet?
We as an older generation, we are not completely aware of the functions of the Internet. We sometimes feel embarrassed when our child is explaining how things work on our phone or on the internet. Also, we might not face the same dangers then the ones that our child might face. The concept such as catfishing is a total new danger. Older generations have never been exposed to these types of concepts.
If parents know about the Internet, they might underestimate the dangers of it. Then again, they may not be aware of the new type of dangers like cited above.
Since there is a gap between us and our child, we may not give the proper tools to him/her. This is why, we, the Welfare Unit of OCHA, are going to give you a few tools to protect your child.
The bright side
Before giving you some tools, let’s not forget that the Internet is not necessarily bad. Even though we hear all these bad things about the Web, it is important to see the bright side of it.
We must be aware that people tend to have bad opinions on things they don’t know very well. The internet and technological devices are quite new, so people tend to have a lot of opinions on them. Also, the research that is being done on young users say that there are negative effects on their attention span or on their mental health. But we don’t know the real long-term effects on children since we haven’t been using the Internet for long.
There has been research that emphasized the good side of the Web and devices. Some say that the Z generation (person who had the Internet since very young) are more able to multi-task than the older generation (https://understandingteenagers.com.au/generation-z-multitasking-teens/).
Some other good news is that once in a while, schools provide lessons to better use the Internet. These lessons are always suited for the age of the children in the classroom.
Your children can have some tools but as a parent, you can reinforce the bases given.
The first essential tool is communication. Try to have an open space to have honest discussions with your child. If the communication is not that open at home, there are chances that your child is going to look for answers on the internet. And he might not get the best information there is. The best advice is the one given by a parent, after all.
For example, sex is a taboo subject for most families. Parents feel embarrassed when it comes to this subject or they might think that their child is too young to know about these things. To tell you the truth, those two are not valid excuses. You can always talk about whatever subject with the appropriate language for your child’s age. When such an open space for safe conversation is created, your child will not hesitate to come talk to you if he or her as any questions.
Don’t be afraid to ask about your child’s day and also open up about your experiences to create a good bond with him. This will be able to create a good relationship of trust between you.
2. Get to learn new things
If you feel a total disconnect with what is happening with today’s generation, read about it in books or in the internet. Several books specialize on several subjects about children in this Internet’s era.
3. Prevent possible dangers
You can use some tools to prevent any exposure to any danger.
When it comes to computers, you can install programs that filter and restrict some type of content (i.e. CyberPatrol, K9 Web Protection, CYBERsitter etc.). You can also place the computer in an open space at home so that you can look at what your child is doing.
There are parental control apps that you can use for your child’s phone. It can block certain websites. Your child will not stumble upon any chocking content.
More generally, you can teach your child from your mistakes and warn him about signs that lead to a potential danger in the Internet.
4. When danger occurs
If you learn that your child has seen some chocking content on the Internet, please don’t shame or punish him. That is the worse you can do. It’s better to create a safe space.
After the occurring event, sit down with your child and talk about what he saw. Let him describe the things that he saw. Then ask about how he feels about it. Once he responded, give your input and tell him that what he saw is not real and is not conform to reality. Say that it might be inappropriate for him to see this type of content. Give good arguments and again, don’t shame him.
This has been a very general presentation of the kids and the Internet. Cyberbullying, online gaming or other specific themes hadn’t been presented in this article because they deserve a whole article about this specific issue.
The Internet will always be in our lives and it’s better to be fully informed to prepare your children to make a good use of it. There is the good and the bad on the Web. Prevention is better than cure.