Navigating the Digital World—How Parents Can Participate In Their Kids’ Online Safety

digital parental control

Do you remember the first time you used internet? I bet you do. Let me tell you mine’s. It was an Intel Pentium 1 Desktop that was the size of a mini fridge. Too many fans and massive boards, with much of everything wired—most of them tangled across my feet. Amongst that agglomeration, I got room for another—the telephone line so that I could setup my internet connection. During that time, we used to have those modems that required us to connect to Dial-up internet. I would buy a few dollars prepaid card that would last a few hours and would take usually 5 minutes to connect. During that time, you had to listen to those strange beeps, whispering out of the modem. God! I hated them.

The only few things that we could do online were the MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and Chat rooms and my fav mIRC—an internet relay chat client. The slow internet speed was what made internet safe during those times. Sharing of photos and videos wasn’t common because it would take many minutes before the other person could receive it. Well, that pretty much sums up my first few online experiences.

For our kids, internet isn’t something of an anomaly—from them—it existed always. They can’t even think about their world without it. Digital world is an important, overdriving facet of our lives and a little regard for how to homogenize it into our other routines and tasks would simply ensure that it’s not overwhelming. You can do it for yourselves, but your kids need you to help them navigate through the digital world. They might never ask for it, because they can’t foresee the risks.

For today’s generation, internet is, apparently, everything to them. They record their life events, take photos, play videos games, watch videos, research school assignments…. There isn’t any part of their life that’s not linked to internet. There is always something that’s available to watch, share or explore and that’s what should worry parents.

You can’t force your kids to stay away from the internet without some genuine reason to do so— and even if they do, it’s never going to bring a positive impact on them. Kids suck at filling in the empty boxes.

Starting Young

You want your kids to follow your instructions, start when your kids are young. Remember, your kids first experience of internet shouldn’t be on a personal smartphone. Start with a personal desktop instead—it gives you more freedom over what kind of internet browser or internet settings to allow for your kids’ use.  You can then choose ad-blockers and anti-spyware etc. that can help minimize the invasive distractions of the internet

Ads are of very pervasive nature. Teens require special practice to stay focused towards the digital world and avoiding distractions. Help them by installing an ad-blocker!

After setting up their access points, next thing you need to do is to put some reasonable limits on their daily internet use. An hour or two are just enough for most of the kids. This limit on internet use needs to be enforced without any compromises. Try to lure them with other offline activities. Get them some books to read, or tell them to go outside and do some physical activity. Be generous with inviting their friends over, this way when your kid will grow into a teen, they would prefer to stay at home and invite over friends rather than staying away all the time.

Parents are the best role models for their kids and they can use this by setting good example of self-control over online activities. If parents are setting up the example of resorting to internet at the slightest brink of boredom, it will likely make their kids do the same.

When Kids Grow Older

As kids grow into teens, parents have more to worry about because it’s the time when kids start hiding things. If they had embraced that they will be monitored, then there is very little that they will hide from you. But chances are that they wouldn’t and therefore, you will require something more than just words to monitor their activities.

In 2014, McAfee researched and found out that around 50 percent of the teens let strangers track their every online activity.

Parents’ job is to teach their kids about online safety. This includes telling them about social permanence, adjusting privacy setting of their online accounts and how others can use the stuff posted online by them. Lastly, they also need to know that why they shouldn’t be keeping things from you.

It all takes just one mistake for lifetime regrets and frustration. It’s now or never. Get up and get it done before it’s just sorrows and blues for your kid.

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