Insights » Is the Internet safe for our kids - the dangers of the Internet

Is the Internet safe for our kids - the dangers of the Internet

safeweb jpgThe Internet can be a wonderful resource for kids. They can use it to research, to do school projects, communicate with teachers and other kids, and play interactive games. Like a coin has two sides, the Internet can be a dangerous place for children and teens. 


The hazards can be frightening. Hundreds of trap lurking in the cyber world where our children are active 24x7. In a recent incident, Facebook friend rapes 13-year-old after luring her to elope with him. Charmed by the 21-year-old youth's sweet talk, the teenager ran away with him and she was sexually abused for two days. In another classical example of internet danger, an 18 year Houston area high school student committed suicide due to cyber bullying. Her family said she had been receiving abusive text messages for months from bullies using an untraceable smartphone application. Her father said someone made a fake Facebook page of her, creating another cyber bullying medium. In another stunning case, a 12-year-old boy repeatedly abused his four-year-old half-sister whilst playing hide-and-seek. The boy was addicted to pornography and regularly visited porn websites. 


Children may also expose their families to online risks, for example, by downloading malware that could give cybercriminals access to their parents' bank account or other sensitive information


How to ensure online safety of our children? 


How can we teach our children to use the internet safely is a billion dollar question. Many parents who talked me are clue less and in utter state of despair resorted to threat and beat their children. Some parents imposed a ban on internet usage at home by disconnecting Wi-Fi and taken away mobiles from their children. However, psychologists say such moves from parents create rebellion in young children. Moreover our internet savvy new generation is smarter than us and they can easily hoodwink parents by using internet without any suspicion. Here I try to provide some practical tips for parents, teachers and elders to protect the children from the multitude of Internet dangers.


12 Tips for the internet safety of children


# In order to guide and advice children about online safety, parents and teachers must be equipped with the working knowledge of smart phones, social media platforms, internet applications and various internet dangers. Many parents shy away from learning the operation of new gadgets and internet applications. Children misuse the ignorance of their parents. Keep an open mind and enthusiasm to learn new things.


# You may be starting to think your child knows more about using technology than you do, and you may be right. Make it your business to keep up to date and discuss what you know with your child. Remember children lacks maturity and wisdom.


# Remind the children that once they have written something they can’t delete it. What you post in internet will have a permanent foot print. Therefore advise and monitor your child’s internet interaction. Discourage the postings of private photos and feeling or mood updates such as feeling sad, bored, and scared. Internet fraudsters may misuse the photos and strangers may try to connect you seeing the mood or feeling you have updated. 


# Make sure your children only message and accept friend and contact requests from people they know. Strictly forbid your children’s interaction with strangers and never agree to a private chat with a stranger.


# On computers and any other devices your child has access to, set the parental controls to the appropriate age, and enabling access to only appropriate content. Buy or download parental control software, switch it on and keep it updated. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) also give their customers free parental controls which can be activated at any time. Check them out and take advantage of them.


# Warn your children about the dangers of posting private information online. Don’t give out personal information such as mobile phone number or home address online for all to see.


# Children have a tendency to download games, films, videos and other applications and often such downloads seriously affect child safety. Sexual predators and other criminals often target kids through this download. Children may be exposed to sexual contents and personal information may be stolen.


# Monitor your child whether he or she use internet late-night. Many teenagers spend sleepless night chatting with strangers or classmate Romeos. Sexual predators are active on internet late night hours targeting children.


# Communication is key to develop understanding between parents and children. Let the child know that you are interested and involved and that you will help when needed. Listen carefully and politely. Don’t interrupt the child when he is trying to tell his story. 


# Tell your child not use the social media platforms to hurt others, bullying, threatening and breaching privacy.

# Explain to your child that being online doesn’t give them anonymity or protection, and that they shouldn’t do anything online that they wouldn’t do face-to-face.


# Children are unaware of the legal restrictions and copy right issues. For example I have found some children tried to access banned web sites and applications by installing Virtual Private Network (VPN). Parents should aware that children may access via VPN the websites and applications, you try to prevent by installing Parental control software


# Monitor your child whether they access to inappropriate content online such as pornography, racist, violent, extremist or other harmful material. 

# Buy or download only apps, games, online TV and films which have age ratings, which you should check before allowing your child to play with or watch them.


In short Today’s children are born into a technology-based society and expert the usage Internet at an early age. As parents and teachers, it’s our responsibility to talk to them about the hidden dangers of the Internet, teach them safe Internet habits, and implement practical strategies like the above steps to help them do so safely.


Duglas gifDuglas Joseph


Duglas Joseph is a prolific writer on Social, Educational and Parenting issues in newspapers, magazines and online portals. Conducting counselling sessions and seminars on teenage, career guidance and educational issues. Faculty at Gems Our Own English School Fujairah.  Former faculty at Ministry of Education Maldives.


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