Although installing parental control programs and filtering software on your PC is highly recommended, this is not a fool-proof solution for knowing what your child is exposed to online. That is, you cannot simply “set it and forget it”. Despite your best efforts, you children could eventually be exposed to something you don’t want them to see. For example, you may have strict parental control at home, but that cannot prevent your kids from accessing it elsewhere. Children can be exposed to inappropriate material, play violent video games, or chat with strangers anywhere internet may be available. Today, kids can access the internet from anywhere via smart phones, laptop computers, and tablets. Because there are so many sources, parents can’t keep an eye on everything.
Continue to use parental software at home, monitor and supervise your child’s online behaviour when possible, and make sure to have on-going discussions about appropriate and inappropriate online activities and the dangers of certain types of online activity. You can also talk to your children’s friends’ parents about what your children can do on the internet.
If you prevent your child from creating a Facebook account will this put an end to their habit of using social media? No, not at all. They will likely attempt to find some other social networking website to communicate. Some social media sites are safer and more appropriate for children than others. There are many parents who allow their kids to join Instagram and other such sites so that they can pursue their individual hobbies and interests.
Monitoring your child’s online activities is an on-going process. Make sure that you are familiar with the workings of social sites before you permit your child to join them. Become familiar with the sites your child frequents and make sure that appropriate security settings are in place. It is a dangerous position to be in if your child is far more computer and internet savvy than you are.
Don’t think that because your child does not have a mobile phone connection, they will not be able to chat with unknown people. Children with home gaming consoles such as an Xbox or PlayStation (or even an iPod touch) can easily access just about every chat site available to those with computers.
Children do not simply use their home consoles to play video games and use an iPod for listening to music. A child may be exposed to many things online using these gadgets. Gaming consoles as well as portable gadgets also have parental controls – use them!
You may be surprised to know that whatever you write online is essentially available forever. Even if you write or post something that later on you regret and delete, there is the possibility that it has already been copied, forwarded or shared – and at this point the information that you initially shared is now completely out of your control.
Talk to your children about the sharing of information online. Make sure that your children understand that posting information on the internet really means that they are sharing this with everyone. Also be very clear about what kind of information is acceptable to share and what should never be revealed online.