Internet is an important resource in today’s society for everyone and it has become a part of life just like mobile phones, Television, etc. There are also so many gadgets and devices you can use to surf the internet like laptops, mobile phones and even refrigerators! Internet is so useful now since there are so many things we can do. In fact it’s a lot faster and efficient, without even needing to go out. For instance -banking, shopping, pay bills, communicating with friends and families, make phone calls, search for information, directions & maps, research school reports, play interactive games and much more. The possibilities and the usage are limitless.
Unfortunately, all good things also come with some bad. Internet can also cause you, your computer and your child havoc if not used with caution. There are many security and certain dangers that comes with internet usage and this could potentially pose threats to your child if they are allowed to use the internet without proper monitoring.
Some of the common dangers on the internet are the Viruses, Spywares, Identity theft, Pornography and even Paedophiles. In order to avoid these dangers, you would need to educate your child about the internet usage and follow the tips given below to effectively execute control over your child’s Internet usage. Just keep in mind that many potential risks and dangers can be avoided simply by educating your child about the do’s and don’ts on the Net.
Educating your kids about Internet security is very important and also it saves a lot of troubles in the future since your child is aware of things they should or shouldn't do. Parents have to be tough and should implement parental control over the Internet in order to avoid certain dangers and risks that come with the Internet usage.
Learn about Computers and Internet
Before you can educate your child about “Internet and Safety”, it is very essential that you educate yourself about Computers and Internet first. You should know how to use the computer and the Internet, how to check previously visited pages (defined as “History” in browsers), how to activate anti-virus and anti-spams, how to put restrictions to unwanted websites and more. If you are already a regular internet user, then you should not have a lot of trouble in understanding these. But if you are one of those who are yet to get used to the computer and technology, then don’t worry. There are a lot of resources available now-a-days like Cd’s and books that can get you started. If not, you can even ask someone in your family or friends to give you a crash course on this.
Implementing Internet and Safety
- Put the computer in a common room like the family room or living room and not in the child’s room or a closed room when your child is at an early age.
- You can teach your child to ask the parent’s permission first before connecting and surfing the internet.
- Do not leave your child unsupervised and isolated.
- Install a child-safe browsers meant for kids. There are some good in-build features in it like filtering the bad sites and allowing visiting good and safe sites automatically. Sometimes these browsers can also be colourful and fun. There are browsers that allow parents to choose suitable web sites and prevent children from accessing undesirable sites.
- Explain to your child not to give away personal information to others such as passwords, parent’s credit card details, home address, their school name, telephone numbers, what time they come home, what time you come home, etc... Ensure that they are aware not to give these details away either on the Net like the chat rooms, emails, social networking site and bulletin boards (or) in person (or) even over the phone.
- Teach your child not to explore sites that look suspicious or has a warning page about being underage.
- Teach your child not to download anything from suspicious sites or even from email attachments. Encourage them to make it a habit of asking you to download any contents for them when they are at an early age.
- Advice your child to let you know immediately when they receive any emails they don’t like and also not to reply to stranger’s email and never write to someone who has made them feel uncomfortable or scared.
- Advise your child not to meet someone or have them visit your child without the permission from you (the parents).
- Try to get to know the people in your child’s chat list or online friend’s list. It is important for you to make sure that your child is not chatting with someone who could be a potential threat.
- You have to ensure that your child understands and doesn’t talk to strangers, doesn’t matter if it is in internet and chat rooms (or) in person (or) over the phone.
- It’s important that your child understands that in the Internet, sometimes people are not who they say they are. For example, someone might say that “she” is a “7-year-old girl” but it could really be an older man.
- Set a time limit for your kids to use the net since it could be trouble if hours and hours are spent in front of the computer. Make sure you are aware about the time your child spends on the computer and internet.
- Install a good and updated Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware software in your computer.
Parental Control Software
It is up to you whether you choose to use a Parental Control Software or not. You might not need one if you follow the guidelines given above. But you can certainly have one if you would like to make your monitoring work a bit easier. You might need to purchase the software especially if you want one with good features and usability. Simply google “Parental Control Software” and you can find a big list of them.
If you choose to use a Parental Control Software then try to get one that gives you control over the following:
- Filters and Blocks access to adult sites and sites with adult contents. The adult sites can fall under many categories like pornography, gambling, violence / profanity, militant extremists, drug culture, etc..
- Log surfing activities that allows you to see which sites your child has visited.
- Limit time spent online by restricting the Internet usage to specific dates and times. For example, blocking usage after a particular time at night (or) during established homework times.
- Block chat areas inappropriate for children.
However, I have to note that now-a-days, most browsers already come with an in-built security features. For example, with the Internet Explorer 10, simply go to “Tools –› Internet Options” and then click on the “Security tab”. Here you can customize the security settings or choose from the one’s listed there.
Children and Internet use
Like mentioned above, internet is a very useful resource for everyone including kids. Also it is a known fact today that Internet is going to be indispensable and its importance and reliability is just going to increase in the future. Hence it is good to encourage children to use the computer and internet at an early age itself.
There is nothing like ‘the right age’ to start introducing your child to computers and internet. It is entirely up to you on when you choose to introduce this technology to your child.
Most of the points and guidelines mentioned above are fairly common sense. Ensure that you follow the guidelines to prevent your child from being the next victim and also to tone down the dangers.