In the past, most parents complained about their kids spending too much time in front of the TV. They wanted their kids to go out and play or focus on their studies instead of ‘getting their brains fried’ by spending so much time in front of the tube.
Today the problem is quite different. The Kaiser Family Foundation’s study showed that the younger generation is spending an average of 75 hours a week tethered to technology. This includes an average of two and a half hours on music, five hours on movies and TV and at least three hours on video games and the internet. Only an average of 38 minutes was spent on good old fashioned reading.
While some parents may think that having their children safely in the house is enough for them, spending so much time online exposes children to a different type of danger. A survey showed that one in five internet users aged 10 – 17 had reported receiving unwanted sexual solicitation from online predators. More than 4500 such cases are reported to the police annually. Some of these cases have resulted in the sexual abuse of these unsuspecting children.
How to protect your child
- Discuss online safety with them
Discussing online safety with your children from an early age is key to ensuring their online safety. While you may way want to keep an eye on your child, you can’t be with them the whole day. The fact is that children gain access to the internet at school, on their phones and at other places that you may not know of. Highlighting the importance of online safety and how they can protect themselves, e.g. using passwords and keeping private information private, will go a long way in helping to keep them safe even when they are not under your watchful eyes.
- Use parental controls
There are various parental controls that internet browsers provide. Set up security safeguards as well as content filters for violence, sex, nudity and strong language to help control the content that your children have access to while online. An easy option is to use browsers that have been developed specifically for use by children.
- Understand the signs that your child may be at risk
Knowing and understanding the signs that your child may be at risk will help you take action early and prevent a disaster. Some of the signs include:
- Spending a large amount of time online especially during the night
Children who spend a great deal of time online are at greater risk of falling victim to online sexual predators. Such children are more likely to try and make friends online through chat rooms or explore sexually explicit websites. Using the internet in the evening is even more risky since many predators go to work during the day and spend the evening lurking the internet searching for children to lure.
- They have pornography on their computers
Check your child’s computer for pornography. Predators often supply the children they are trying to lure with pornography. Be sure to check their browsing history as well.
- Receiving calls or gifts from adults
- Your child switches windows quickly when you walk in
Be sure to protect your child as you subscribe to internet service providers. Check what security options your internet service provider offers to further enhance your child’s safety. Visit http://internetbundle.net/ for more.