In this era of the internet; it is important that we protect our children online in the same manner as we do in the real world. For parents and guardians; it is of great significance to help a child in using the internet and teaching them the merits and demerits of it. Children should use the internet as a tool to gain positive experiences online and at the same time learn to use it safely.
The internet opens up an exciting world of opportunities for children and their whole family. It helps interact with people from different countries & opens up endless possibilities helping expand the horizons of the children as a whole. Using the internet carries its risks and challenges that need addressing, particularly in the case of children. Parents should realize and know what kind of content their kids view online.
Children are openly exposed to content that is explicitly violent; prohibited or even illegal. They can be prone to cyber-bullying too. Kids can land up in serious trouble by revealing their personal information to strangers online; knowingly or unknowingly. Cases of two kidnappings have come to the forefront in Pakistan in the last one year or so. Safety tips are highlighted below.
- Observe what content is being viewed online by your children.
- Learn about the technologies that your children are using, educate yourself well in regards to it.
- Talk to your children about using the internet and tell them to share their experiences with you; be friendly and cooperative while having a discussion so to make them feel secure. Advise them about the do’s and don’t’s of the internet and explain them the risks and benefits of the content being viewed on the internet.
- Reach an agreement with your children in regards to internet usage; time limitations can be put in place and the use of the internet should not allowed before going to bed.
- The computer should be placed in a family area of the home, for example, the hallway or lounge.
- Smartphones, tablet usage should only be allowed in your presence only. Apps installed and games being played on them should be thoroughly checked for any violence or content that is ‘inappropriate’ for your children.
- No personal family information or photographs should be shared online without the consent and permission of the parents.
- Encrypt your home Wi-Fi network with strong passwords and do not share them with your children.
- Monitor for any explicit changes in the behavior of your child after using the internet. If you find anything strange in his behavior towards you, immediately take him into confidence and discuss the issues that are hampering him to help them alleviate their pain.
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