The advent of computers and the internet has made information readily available not only for adults, but also for kids. By simply typing keywords in a search engine, a child can have access to tons of related information from all across the globe. The internet can offer almost anything for each individual. For a child, he may use the internet for research, communication or even entertainment.
While the internet has many uses, it may also put children at risk for danger if parents are not too careful. Children can be vulnerable to online offenders, who particularly seek children as their prey. Children may unknowingly share personal information with other people online, without knowing the dangers of their actions.
In order to promote safety at home, parents should monitor what children access or share online. Try to check with your internet service provider (ISP) whether they can provide a blocking system, which can limit your child’s access online. You can also ask them whether you can have “cookies” disabled, so that tracking of specific information will not be possible. Depending on your preference, there are also softwares that you can use to restrict access, or monitor your child’s online activities.
Although these tools may provide some security, it is still not wise to fully rely on these to protect children. It is still very important for parents to monitor a child’s online activities. It may be best if you keep the computer in a common area in your home, so that it will be easier for you to keep track of your child’s activities.
Talk openly to your child why you need to take steps to protect him, and teach him how to responsibly use the internet. Let him know that he should never share personal information such as his home address, phone number, and name of school to people he does not personally know. Since chat rooms are among the most popular sites that children visit, it may be good if you can show your child, that there is much more to the internet than just chatting.
Try to spend some time with your child online, and take the opportunity to ask him what sites he usually visits. You should also be able to access your child’s online accounts so that you can keep track, of the messages and emails he is sending or receiving. You may also set house rules that should be followed when using the internet.
It may also help if you know the warnings signs indicating that your child may be at risk online. You should be suspicious if you notice that your child:
– spends longer hours online (most especially at night)
– has pornographic materials on the computer
– receives phone calls, mails, gifts, and other items from people you do not know
– suddenly becomes withdrawn from the family
– has made calls to numbers you do not know (may even be long distance)
– uses an account belonging to someone else
If you have reason to believe that your child is a target of an online offender, do not hesitate to contact your local law enforcement agency.
The internet can be a great source of valuable information for kids, but without monitoring and supervision, it may put children at risk for danger. Thus, parents need to take certain measures, so that our kids remain safe in our very own homes.