Protecting children from the internet

The internet is becoming ever more prevalent in today’s society. There are ways to access it everywhere, in cafes, at home or on the move through a mobile phone. Children are also becoming more exposed to the internet and parents should be aware of the dangers that children can face in the online world. Much talk is made of this in the media and parents should take note of it. The internet can be a dangerous place, and education and parental supervision is key to keeping your child safe.

For parents it is important that they become involved in a child’s internet life in the same way they would in real life. Children do need some privacy, but they also need careful supervision. Talk to your child about what they do online and let them know that if they have any problems that they can talk to you. If they do come to you, be careful how you handle the situation as it will often determine how comfortable they feel about coming to you with problems in the future.

Another valuable tool for parents in controlling their children’s internet activities is using a filter. This will prevent some website from being displayed, such as pornography or other adult material. These can also be used to block spam emails – which are often not appropriate for children to read. Remember through, filters are not perfect and children and websites will find ways around them, they are not a substitute for good supervision.

A good idea would be to establish basic ‘house rules’ that everyone has to follow when using the web, these would even be useful to adults. First off, remembering not to give out personal information on forums is important. These are spaces where many people can read the information and not just the person you are replying to, it is good practice to keep a certain amount of anonymity online.

The same can be true of emails, unless you know the recipient personally, do not give out any information, such as a telephone number or address to them. It is also a good idea to not allow your email to be listed in any public directories as this would encourage unwanted emails. If you are sent emails from people you don’t know, never click the links in the emails, they can be harmful to your computer.

Social networking has becoming an internet phenomenon and children and parents should be careful. Using a false name can be a good idea for both sites like Facebook as well as instant messenger systems, such as MSN.

Parents should also be aware of cyber bullying. Some children may be the victim of abuse online and if this is so, make sure that the cut all contact with the bully. As in real life, if you do not give them attention then they will most likely go away. It is also important to ensure that you child is not bullying others – websites will have policies against this.

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