In the information age a common concern for parents is how to keep children safe online. The explosion of the internet in the last decade has made the human race more connected than ever before. Communicating with those across the globe is just a simple click away and the way in which we absorb information has changed to accommodate new technologies and services. Instead of watching television, we watch Netflix. Instead of going to the library, we go to Google and have access to more information at our fingertips than we could ever read in our entire lifetimes.
For many of us, the internet wasn’t around when we were growing up, so we understand what it is like without it, however the same can’t be said for the generations proceeding us. The internet has always been there; streams of information, videos, games, pictures, entertainment being beamed perpetually into their young impressionable minds. They are living in the information golden age; but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The internet can be a dark and unforgiving place, if not treated properly. Just as access to life enriching information and content is readily available, so is twisted and damaging content that could emotionally traumatize innocent minds.The best course of action is to educate children about the dangers of using the internet and ways to keep themselves safe online. Here are our Top 5 ways to keep children safe online.
Teaching your child about the internet can be a rewarding experience for both of you. With your guidance, they can learn about safe browsing techniques and limit the potential risks. Using this approach creates a level of trust and will allow them to be open and honest about what they do on the internet, while giving you the peace of mind that they are safe from harmful content.
Even after educating your child on the dangers of the internet, there can still be content available to them that could be harmful. Many safe sites contain comment sections where anyone can share their views and opinions openly and most important anonymously. Comment sections like these can harbour a lot of negativity, including threats of violence or links to trick unsuspecting targets into having their personal data stolen. Making Using of Parental Controls can block these websites from being shown to your child, keeping them and their online data safe.
Another easy way to keep children safe online is being wary of even trust sites.
As mentioned before, even places like YouTube, Facebook or Twitter can be potentially problematic for children. In recent years, YouTube has had to overhaul their platform due to the sheer number of children using it. The site now has a Kids section which filters out all non-child friendly content and promotes pre-approved, safe content. But unsafe content still slips through the cracks. Strange and devious channels, of a highly sexual nature were uploading content under the guise of being kid friendly and these posts were getting through to children. Household characters like Spiderman and Elsa were being shown in adult situations, generally in the form of cartoons and YouTube has since condemned this and has rolled out a plan to curb it from being displayed on the site. It just goes to show that even with safety measures in place, it is better to be wary of all internet platforms as mistakes like this could very well happen again.
Tablets and smartphones have started to take over in recent years as the device of choice for young people, but the premise can still apply. Steps can be taken to prevent content that you don’t want your child to see from appearing, but the best way by far is to be in the same room. As is evident, child safeguard systems in place can fail and therefore being aware of the content you child is consuming in real time is by far the best way to keep on track of their online safety. This way if they stray from what you believe is safe, you can quickly get them back on the right path.
The internet can be a fantastic tool for entertainment and research, but more often we are seeing the detrimental effects of spending far too much time online. Children need to be allowed to socialise and play with other kids their age, burn off energy by running around outside and exploring the real world. Compulsive use of the internet has been shown to lead to mental health problems in adolescents and can negatively impact having meaningful relationships, mental alertness and attention–especially in education and their future career prospects Additionally, children that spend long hours in front of the screen have been shown to have reduced social skills in comparison to those who spent less time online, but just one small change in our internet habits can stop these detriments from occurring–Limit the amount of time spent online, especially at night as the blue light emitted from device screens can trick the body into staying awake and will wreak havoc on their sleeping pattern.
The internet is a fantastic tool that, when used correctly, can help us dramatically. It is not something that we should be scared of, but rather embrace and tread carefully around when using. For the most part, the internet is safe but can pose dangers to young children in more ways that one. Educating your child about these dangers will help them to have a healthy relationship with the web and allow them to adopt a healthy balance of usage. The internet is a tool to make our lives better, and taking steps to ensure it doesn’t become a problem is something that every parent should be doing to ensure that your child has a safe and happy online experience. Keep children safe online and the likelihood of problems developing will be minimised.