The internet is extremely useful in the 21-st century. We can use it to learn anything. It can entertain us or show us the world. We can connect with others or buy anything we need with the stroke of the keyboard. Unfortunately, giving endless power like that to children raises the obvious concerns.
How do we keep our kids safe online? What should we be doing to ensure that they can use such a fantastic resource without constant monitoring? Because the internet has everything. Everything. All the good and all the bad. You can’t protect your kids from everything, but you can do a few things to make sure that they stay safe, while still being able to live in and experience the digital age!
Monitor the Web History
While it might feel like a sneaky thing to do, it’s important to see what your kids are using the internet for. They might feel more comfortable asking the internet their questions. While the internet has a wealth of answers, they’re not always the most accurate answers.
Depending on how old your kids are, maybe you need to address these concerns with them, especially if the searches are alarming or are raising concern with you. Seeing what your kids are looking at can also open the door to important conversations that the family may need to have together. Sometimes these conversations may be uncomfortable, but often times parents can raise better children than a muddled and opinionated internet can.
Block Certain Websites and Content
I bet you can already name a few things you don’t want your children looking at. Graphic, sexual, scary, or violent content is often not something we want young children to be looking at. Filtering inappropriate content and websites can be done easily. You should do this right away. Before you say that you have good kids who would never search for inappropriate things, try to think back to the last time that you typed in a completely innocent search only to find that the internet took it the wrong way.
You can be a saint and still benefit from content filters. Trust me.
Have the Social Media Talk
Social Media is everywhere. From Facebook to forums, you can connect with strangers all over the web. That sounds terrifying to parents, but to lonely teenagers, it’s a godsend. It means that making friends has never been easier. And there was a lot of concern a few years ago that everyone on the internet was baiting younger children, but today, many people on the internet are who they claim to be. Nonetheless, it’s important to sit down with your children and explain to them how social media can be dangerous. Not only is talking to people they’ve never personally met dangerous, but also sending texts, posting statuses, or sharing photos can have lasting consequences if they don’t think first.
It’s important not to scare your children though. When your children are older, the internet can be a great place to meet friends and like-minded people. Sometimes a lesson in being skeptical in what the internet and other internet users are saying can be a better lesson.
Don’t be too Restrictive
Sure, the internet can have some unfortunate things on it, and there are some things you can block your kids from viewing right now so that they don’t have nightmares or strange questions that even you can’t answer. At some point though, hover mom and hover dad have to give up. Growing up in the digital age is hard for some parents to adapt to because they still remember when dial-up internet was a thing. Oh boy.
When you get scared, remember that the internet is an excellent resource that can teach your children anything they ever wanted to know from Neptune the planet to Neptune the ornery Roman God. And what’s more than having all this learning at your fingertips? The internet can make us more professional. It’s funny. We can type like, “How r u 2day?” but we can also learn to send professional emails that read, “Good morning, how are you today?” While many people say that social media makes us stupid, having to correspond with teachers, bosses and other authority figures through email gives us the space to develop a professional voice. But who am I to talk? You can tell I’m not hip anymore because no one would be caught dead saying “2day”. I’m trying my hardest.
Anyway, the internet isn’t as scary as it seems. It’s like a big party of everyone everywhere sharing their knowledge. So, if your neighbors are into some weird stuff, avoid them, but don’t lock your kids away in the house because of that one weird family. There’s a whole party of interesting people and ideas out there, so it’s nothing to be afraid of!
The internet is arguably one of the best things about the twenty-first century. People that were divided get to share ideas and be more social than ever. We get to be open ourselves up to new ideas, learn new things, and even teach others anything we want. The internet is also one of the best sources of entertainment from silly cat videos to video games. So, don’t hold your kids back from growing up in a digital age. Instead, teach them better online habits so that they don’t find themselves on the wrong end of Wikipedia.