Usage of the internet among children is rising and the coronavirus pandemic has driven the trend of using the internet for learning and other purposes. The internet helps enhance students’ knowledge, but also poses challenges and risks to children.
When using the internet, children are exposed to numerous risks, such as loss of privacy, and they might be exposed to inappropriate content, predators, bullies and many more. It also impacts the children’s health, such as they experience anxiety, depression, stress and loss of eyesight due to longer use of laptops or smartphones for accessing the internet.
Parents are entrusted with the responsibility of protecting their children from harm. However, parents face challenges in ensuring their children are safe when using the internet. Below are some steps parents could take to ensure their children are safe.
- Monitor: Monitoring a child’s online activity is important. This is particularly important for younger children. Parents could check the browsing history of their children. Parents could also keep an eye on their children by constantly checking up on them when they use the internet.
- Parental controls: Parents could use the features available in the search engine tools to block certain websites they deem inappropriate for their children. This helps make sure that the children do not view inappropriate content.
- Importance of privacy: Parents could explain to their children the risks of sharing personal information and pictures on social media sites. Also, parents should closely monitor their children’s social media sites and encourage them to be cautious when sharing information online. First, parents should advise their children not to communicate with strangers online, especially in the social media sites.
- Track internet usage: Parents should keep track of the time their children spend on the internet. Internet helps improve students’ knowledge and is used for educational purposes, but using the internet for a longer time on smartphones or computers has a negative impact on children. Hence, parents should limit their children’s internet usage.
- Open communication: Parents should establish open communication with their children and discuss using the internet safely. They could also explain to their children what appropriate and inappropriate content is. Monitoring and establishing parental controls are not always possible. Hence, open communication would help the children be aware of the internet’s risks.
- Be aware of children’s online friends: Especially for younger children, parents should know who their children’s online friends are, such as social media sites. This would help parents to guide their children’s communication and even prevent their children from talking to strangers online.
Internet usage among children for academics and entertainment is only projected to increase. In such a scenario, parents must ensure their children use the internet safely. The methods outlined above would help parents to protect their children from harm. Also, educational institutions and teachers could teach students how to use the internet safely.