The Internet is developing very fast and new technologies are continuously bringing more options to users in the form of entertainment and information. As wonderful as this new growth is, there are accompanying risks. These risks mostly threaten young people and in some cases underage kids, who may be quite savvy in working with computers but very naïve when dealing with Internet schemes.
Parents should be aware of the Internet habits of their children. The best method in preventing any dangerous Internet activity from reaching a child is open communication between the parents and child. The ability to freely communicate serves as a preventative and protective measure for children venturing out on the Internet.
Restrictions work as well, but many children become determine to get around them and seem to find a way to bypass them quite easily.
Talk to your children about everything they are doing on the Internet and build their trust. Children are more likely to speak to you if they get in trouble on the Internet when a solid, trusting relationship is established. Assure your children if someone begins harassing them that you’ll be there to help them at any time.
Parents should instruct their children to never give out their real names, addresses or phone numbers, without permission, when using the Internet. Explain to your children how important it is to protect their passwords and to never share them with anyone.
Dangerous things your children should know about:
- Risky communication – Over the Internet, no one is ever sure who is actually sitting in front of the computer screen on the other side. From cyber-bullying and other electronic slights, skilled manipulators can influence or blackmail naive users and even control them from a distance.
- Risky content – Almost everything and every type of information is available on the Internet, including inappropriate and offensive content that is pornographic in nature, incites hate, violence or abuse, promotes suicides, illegal activity and extremism of all kinds, and other undesirable material.
- Commerce and information – Many websites contain advertisements, some of which may contain misleading or completely fraudulent content. Money can be spent with just a few clicks particularly by children. Kids often fall prey to deceptive online marketing practices and take information at face value without considering the consequences of their actions. Parents should keep an eye on credit card, bank account and mobile phone statements for any unusual activity.
There are programs supported by governments, organizations or local institutions providing information to both parents and children about these types of threats. If any are available in your local area, do not hesitate to inquire. If you become a victim of an Internet scheme and do not feel capable of handling it on your own, contact the police as soon as possible.
Cyber-bullying and how to protect against it
No one wants to be the object of cyber-bullying. Teach your children not to engage in it as it can lead to dangerous consequences. Also teach your child how to avoid becoming a victim of it. If your child becomes a victim of cyber-bullying, you can seek assistance from law enforcement, school officials or other organizations and services that provide counseling and guidance for you and your child. Here are some tips to discuss with your child:
- Teach your children how to protect their privacy and respect the privacy of the others.
- Teach your children not to respond to or engage in offensive messages.
- Talk to children about what exactly can be unpleasant for someone else.
- Teach your children how to block specific users in communication applications.
- Explain to your children how to store offensive messages as future evidence.
Sexting is a combination of two English words "sex" and "texting". Texting represents sending texts and images via a mobile phone. When texting is combined with images of a sexual nature, and then sending these photos via mobile phones, this activity is called sexting. Privacy is often compromised as these images or videos can easily be publicized on websites and shared with anyone. Lasting effects of this can be very damaging especially to children both psychologically and in future endeavors that require screening such as employment. Participating in this kind of communication can send those involved behind bars, especially if this kind of activity involves child exploitation.
As pointed out the Internet is a dangerous place for children. However, parents need to take into account that the Internet is not the only area where children can run into trouble. Keep all the pitfalls of life in mind. With rules and an understanding relationship in place, children and parents can dodge the dangers and enjoy the benefits.