Protecting Your Child’s Online Experience
An Internet connection at home can be convenient and beneficial for your family. If there are children in your household, they’re probably Internet users, too. Even young children are getting online for entertainment or education.
The research organization affiliated with the popular kids’ TV show Sesame Street reported that 25% of kids under the age of 6 venture online on a regular basis. The same study showed that 59% of children ages 6 to 9 connect to the Web on a typical weekday.
The Internet can be a valuable source of information for learning or fun for children. However, children of all ages should use the Internet under supervision and guidance. Here are a few of the best safety guidelines for your children to follow to protect their online experience:
Use caution with online sharing
Sharing photos, news, and more with friends and family is a huge benefit of using the Web for socializing. Sharing online takes little effort or time, but kids should remember that online sharing can have negative consequences.
Express an interest in your child’s online activity and explore the Web as a family, when possible.
Discourage your child from sharing personal information online, such as credit card information or passwords. Have your child ask your permission to log in to a Website to play games or socialize.
Create house rules for Internet use
You might have rules in your home for consumption of sweets or a bedtime for your children. You can limit their Internet use the same way. A set limit for entertainment intake can benefit your child’s health and well-being.
You might even limit media exposure to certain times of the day, or reduce the time spent on each entertainment medium. Children commonly use the Internet while watching TV. According to a Nielson study in 2010, 36% of children ages 2 to 11 use TV and Internet simultaneously. Be aware of when, where, and why your child connects to the Internet.
Understand how they connect to the Web
In 2012, the Pew Research Center’s Internet project reported that 95% of teens use the Internet, and about 75% of teens 12-17 are mobile-Internet users. If your child uses the Internet without your supervision at school or at your local library, get to know their Internet habits.
Teens are especially at risk when it comes to sharing on social media. According to the Pew Research Center, 91% of teens have a photo of themselves online, and 92% share their real name on social media websites.
More than half of teens who use the Web share their interests, birthday, city, school, email address, and relationship status online.
Express an interest in your teen’s online activity and learn about what they like to do online. Get involved, and talk to your child about their online activities and behavior. Open communication can give you a chance to intervene if you feel that the sites they visit are inappropriate.
Teach your children good online habits
More teens turn to social networking sites as a key element of their social lives and after-school interaction. Facebook is a large part of American teens’ lives—the Pew Research Center survey reported that 73% of Americans ages 12-17 use Facebook.
Because of this relatively new style of interaction, cyber-bullying is an ongoing issue with today’s youth.
Teach your children how to react to instances of cyber-bullying. Encourage them to talk to you about any online situation that makes them feel uncomfortable or victimized.
Avoid escalating the situation and teach your children to communicate with you regarding any inappropriate online interaction. A good example of this is to provide them with the comfort of knowing they won’t be punished if they come to you about a problem online.
No matter what age your child is, explain the risks of technology to them and teach them how to be responsible online. This will ensure your child has a positive online experience for many years.