How to Protect Your Children Against Online Dangers
The internet offers children the best forum for learning and entertainment.
It provides them with information resources, entertainment, faster
communication, social networking, and online services. When online, children
readily access information, images, games, and movies. Furthermore, they also
meet and chat with new and old friends through social networking forums and chat
rooms. However, parents are concerned about many dangers the internet exposes
children to. For instance, they can access inappropriate information such as
pornography and violent movies and games. Furthermore, they can meet criminals
who can harm, kidnap, or kill them. Therefore, parents should fully protect
children when they are online. This article describes the online dangers that
children face and measures that parents can take to protect their children.
Online Dangers That Children Face
With just a click of the mouse, the child can access websites that promote use
of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco; pornography; racism and hate groups; guns and
explosives; cult and satanic groups or graphic violence. Furthermore, it exposes
them to criminals.
Pedophiles in Social Networking - Many children are active in social
networking sites such as MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook. Despite age limit of
thirteen imposed by the websites, children as young as nine years engage in
social networking. They easily connect with strangers or people who have
provided fake identities and addresses. Pedophiles know their child victims
through social networking websites, via instant messaging systems or chat rooms.
They persuade the children to meet them and eventually abduct, harm or kill
Access to Unsuitable Information and Images - Children can access
websites with adult information, movies and images that they should not see at
their age. Of major concern are pornographic photos and videos. Many children
browse sexual images online. Sexual predators can persuade your child
to send them nude photos or lure them to pose naked in front of the webcam for a
photograph. Furthermore, children can access websites that promote racism and
sexism and those that encourage users to engage in self-harming actions such as
inflicting pain or eating disorders. The child can develop disturbing behaviors
or thoughts after such exposure.
Identity Theft - Criminals persuade children to give them personal
information such as physical address, phone numbers, and information about their
parents. This can lead to theft and robbery being committed at your home.
Furthermore, criminals can impersonate and incriminate the child or parents in
criminal activities they commit on the internet or elsewhere. Before you prove
yourself or the child innocent, you shall have gone through costly, stressful,
and time consuming court processes.
Career Spoiling - The information children post in their internet
accounts is accessible worldwide. Revealing personal information can negatively
affect the child’s future opportunities. Education institutions and employment
agencies review postings made by candidates on social networks to decide their
On June 7th 2013, in Cleveland Ohio: The newly promoted Bolton Elementary School
principal, Erin Murphy was promptly removed from her position. This is all
due to a Facebook post she made, publicly denigrating her would-be future
employees. On the Facebook post, she calling teachers "pecrepit looking"
and the school "the filthiest school...". See the article here on
Fox Action News.
Time Spent Online - Children should not spend too much time online. You
should encourage them to engage in other social activities such as sports. The
child can easily develop depression from the isolation and become disoriented if
their social world is confined to the screen.
Online Bullying - Online bullying is rampant. Your child could be a
bully or victim. Bullies post information that upset other users. The bully can
set up a website for use by other bullies to post negative information about
their victims. For instance, bullies can use it to vote and humiliate the
victims who have some undesirable physical features. Furthermore, a bully can
send emails with very hurtful messages: with copies to many other children. It
is difficult to find and punish bullies because they keep their identities
Measures to Protect Children While
Education is the most effective means of protecting children against online
dangers. Parents can use the measures listed below to complement education
because they work on the children’s computers at home and are more effective for
young children. Older ones have access to computers elsewhere: cyber cafes,
school, libraries, or friend’s house. Furthermore, older ones can use the mobile
phone to surf the internet.
Education - Children are often not aware of the online dangers.
Therefore, it is the duty of parents to inform them of all these dangers lurking
online. Furthermore, it is the duty of parents to educate their children on how
to protect themselves from these dangers.
Open Communication - Create a relationship with your children in which
they find it easy to communicate with you. They will then find it easy to inform
you if they encounter a situation online that is uncomfortable or unusual.
Develop trust between you and your child that will enable open and effective
communication. Open communication involves talking and listening. You should be
able to talk as well as listen to your child. Listen to your child's
descriptions as well as emotions on what their is saying. Allow them to express
themselves fully without
undue interruption. Start open communication with your child early. Let him grow
up knowing that you can listen to anything he has to say and solve any problem
he has. This will make it easy for you to understand him during his teen years
when communication may be difficult.
Monitoring Children’s Surfing Activities - Place the children’s
computer in a public area of the house. For instance, it is easy to monitor
children’s activities online from a computer in the living room. They will know
that an adult can notice when they visit prohibited sites and avoid them.
Furthermore, you should be the administrator on the children’s computer and
create a non-administrator account for each child. As an administrator, you can
check their activities in their absence by using the parental controls provided
in the computer to track their activities. You can install more programs that
Set Surfing Rules - Compile a list of rules for the children to follow
while surfing. Include the punishments you will give those who violate the
rules. Review the rules with the children and make sure they understand them.
Post the list of rules on their computers.
Block Inappropriate Websites - Windows has built in settings for
parents to block websites and mail which they do not want their children to
access. It is a very useful facility because it prevents the children from
visiting a whole range of offensive sites. With non-administrative accounts, the
children cannot remove the settings.
Children are easily intimidated and manipulated because they lack the emotional
maturity to sense danger and defend themselves. Their overbearing curiosity and
desire for acceptance and belonging makes them even more vulnerable. Use the
measures outlined above to protect your children against online dangers.
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