Every generation of parents has challenges that come with raising a responsible child in a modern society. The Internet and mobile devices have raised new challenges for parents bringing up children in a wired world. On one hand, it’s understandable that parents want to safeguard their children’s Internet activity. On the other hand, the Internet is an amazing educational and communication tool that children must learn to independently navigate themselves without being sheltered. It’s important that parents are proactive in getting a child online and teaching good Internet ethics.
While there is no set age for a child to start interacting online, parents must be aware that kids even as young as 5 or 6 are using Internet enabled devices. These days, the accessibility for portable devices like tablets, smartphones and laptops is so easy, some parents think nothing of giving them to their children as gifts. These devices are also often marketed to kids and families during the holidays. As a parent, you must use your best judgment as to when you feel your child is ready for get online. Get involved early on who your child is hanging out with and know what devices his or her friends are using. Avoid peer pressure, but also make sure your child isn’t picking up bad computer habits from friends.
Most children learn about how to use a computer from watching and mimicking their parents. When children are very young, the idea of computer and Internet safety is foreign to them. Children should witness first-hand good online ethics. For instance, if you use social media site, let your child see how it works and which types of people are OK to talk to. Let them know that it is still unsafe to talk to strangers, even online. When kids see Internet safety at work, it is much easier for them to understand it. Do not try to scare your kids into using proper Internet safety. You need to guide them with the proper experience and examples.
The Internet is a vast, and unfiltered communication ecosystem. You should always consider managing and placing restrictions on what your child has access to. As part of your child’s computer set-up, you should go through and block the sites you do not want your child visiting. You should also look into utilizing parental controls for social networking websites as well. Think of the Internet like your neighborhood and map out which sites are OK for your child to access. If your child wants to have a Facebook page, always be aware of who is on his or her friends list.
Before you buy your child a personal computer, you should first observe him or her using your computer. Not only should you make sure that your child knows the basics of using a computer, but it also gives you the opportunity to explain elements such as computer maintenance, how to find helpful resources and good online etiquette. It is also important that your child understands how to take of technology. A good rule of thumb is to discourage food, drinks and dirty hands when using the computer.
A personal computer can be an exciting moment of independence for a child. Parents need to take the proper steps to make sure that it is a safe and positive experience.