These days with our hectic lifestyles, we often put young children in environments suitable only for adults just to keep them quiet for a while so we can get on with things. The problem is that there are many unsavoury characters lurking in the electronic world. As a parent it is our responsibility to monitor our children and their internet use to see what they are looking at, and to protect them as best as possible from online predators. Setting limits with children for their use of technology is essential.
What Example Are You Setting As A Parent?
It is true that many children are using personal computers for education. Given we need to allow our children the freedom to do this, setting limits with our children to some degree for their internet use has become more and more important. Hence the existence of management tools to help monitor our children’s use of their PC and mobile device. There are a number of activities you can do to help monitor and control how your child uses their PC or phone.
Many parents say that the Government should be enacting laws that reduce inappropriate internet or game content. Other parents sit back and say their kids just won’t listen. A far more effective (and admittedly challenging) response is to take responsibility for our children’s actions. The fact is that children want to watch everything they see their parents watching. They see what kinds of examples we set as parents whether we like it or not.
Don’t Allow Your Children to Sail Unchartered Waters
If you as a parent are too busy to bother about your child, it’s most likely they will solicit attention elsewhere. This includes attention from people online that they may not have met in person, but who make them feel special. In the 21st century we can’t cocoon our children and cut them off from the outside world. What we can be doing is setting limits with children and not just allowing them freedom to sail the unchartered waters of the internet sea on their lonesome.
Our children’s exposure to the internet and other technological devices should be viewed in a similar light to TV exposure. On the Internet, solutions for monitoring children and internet use are known as nanny software. There are a number of approaches to nanny software currently available on the internet.
Software To Monitor Children And Internet Use
SurfWatch is a software filter that predominantly blocks sexually explicit material on the internet, as well as violence, hate speech, gambling and drugs (including tobacco). The program checks names of news groups, chat channels and websites and filters out those with adult content. For a monthly fee, the filter database is updated constantly. In some instances the packages are fully commercial, but sometimes they are free. There are also demonstration versions that can be used at no cost.
The common feature of the software is that it is designed for ease of use by the parent. Many people will say that tech-savvy teenagers will do what it takes to hack their way through the software, and this may be possible. However the bottom line is that setting limits with children comes down to values.
Set Ground Rules
If a child has been brought up with healthy values and a clear idea of what constitutes appropriate behavior in the family, the dangers of the internet diminish dramatically. Setting limits with children starts with creating some ground rules like the following:
- Set up clear rules with your child for your child. Teach them not to give their home address or personal phone number without your permission. Also set up designated times when your child can use online services and games.
- Any computer in the house which is connected to the internet should be in a communal part of the house, so that parents can easily monitor their child’s activity on the computer.
- Parents should be the ones setting up internet accounts and passwords, not the children themselves. It is wise as a parent to familiarize yourself with firewalls, monitoring software and internet filters. You can also make use of your browser history to find out what sites your kids have been visiting.
- Encourage constant dialogue between you and your child. You want your child to feel safe to open up to you without reprimand or judgment. Your child should be happy to tell you what they have been doing on the network, including what conversations they are having and with whom.
- Always support your child’s use of the Internet. Take time to familiarize yourself fully with the internet so that you can understand your children’s e-mail habits and how they communicate with their online friends.
The Cost Of Freedom
In the 21st century we all want freedom, but not the type that can corrupt and abuse our innocent children. It is in our hands as parents to make our children feel loved and important, particularly in their early years. If we can get this right and work together with our children online, they will be less likely to suffer at the hands of strangers they meet on the internet.