Internet Safety – Nothing to Hide

The Internet is a beneficial and helpful resource. However, the Internet does have a darker side. It is possible, and necessary, to help children and teens to benefit from the good and useful aspects of the net while avoiding the bad. The two main means of protection are sheltering and training. Protecting children both by limiting access to the Internet and by teaching children to use the internet in appropriate ways is essential to keeping children safe online.
It is important to have an age-appropriate, open discussion with children about what is okay to look at and read about online.

A Way to Approach Online Pornography with Young Children

Tell the child, “The human body is a beautiful thing. Parts that are covered up by a bathing suit are private parts. Those parts are special and so need to be kept private. You shouldn’t look at other people’s private parts and other people shouldn’t look at yours, except for parents and doctors when necessary. If a picture of a naked person comes up on the computer, click “x” and tell me right away.” It is important that a child knows what to do so that they don’t feel afraid and ashamed if something like this happens.

Email, Facebook, and Cell Phones

Parents should have the passwords for their children’s/teen’s email and facebook and other accounts. Parents should also have access to the teen’s cell phone. If youths have nothing to hide, this arrangement shouldn’t be a big deal to them. It is important that parents keep an eye on what children and teens are doing online and with their cell phones. Sexual instant messaging, emailing, and texting are becoming increasing problems with young people today. Posting inappropriate pictures of themselves on Facebook or sending these photos via cell phone has become a significant issue with female youth. Teens have difficulty foreseeing the future results of their actions and so they need parental input on what is appropriate.
Children and teens will also feel less inclined to participate in inappropriate discussions or postings when they know that their parents have their passwords, have access to their cell phones, and will see what they have been doing. It is like a teen’s bedroom. Although it is theirs and they do have some privacy, parents still do have the right to go in and take a look at what is going on. If parents see that inappropriate activity is taking place on the Internet or other technological devices, youths should receive consequences appropriate to the infraction (loss of computer time, Internet, cell phone, etc.).
For elementary-aged children, Zoobah email is a good choice. It is only $12 a year. Only emails from a pre-specified ‘white list’ are allowed to reach your child’s in box. For every email your child receives, you will get a copy of it sent to your email. If an email is sent from someone outside of the specified list of contacts, the parent receives an email that allows them to add that person to the contact list and send the email to the child’s inbox if they so wish.

Proactive Internet Safety

It is important for parents to be proactive in their approach to finding solutions to Internet concerns. Learning tap click learn is helpful and exciting for children!

© Celesta Thiessen

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