Kids these days are obsessed with social media and the Internet in general and while this craze can offer a lot of education and even a place for kids and teens to be a part of a community where they are free to express themselves, there are a lot of dangers both obvious and hidden that parents should be aware of.
It is always the responsibility of the parent or guardian to be savvy and tuned into what activities their children are partaking in on the computer. The fact is, most children will be unaware of the safety measures that need to be taken and will at times not make smart choices. Therefore, parents should remain diligent in keeping their children safe and educated when it comes to computer and online Internet use.
The Dangers Lurking
There are a plethora of dangers to different degrees online and the vast majority of kids won’t think twice about them. Not only are they apt to share private information to complete strangers or those they consider to be ‘cyber friends,’ they also can get caught up in the excitement of chatting and connecting with people; some of which have bad intentions.
Educating kids about these potential dangers which include identity theft, bullying, chat room conduct, posting photos giving out personal information and online predators is essential if they are to remain safe and responsible while using the computer. Placing too much weight and trust in the fact that children already know about these dangers, or assuming that they will always make the correct choices, can be a fatal mistake.
Instead everyone involved needs to remain proactive and take precautionary measures to ensure that kids are safe at all times and responsible.
Computer Use Agreement
Thankfully parents everywhere are turning to computer use agreement tactics as one way to help their children be responsible and stay safe while using the computer. Such agreements are available for downloading online or parents can create one of their own at home. It is a great idea to also involve the children while constructing computer use agreements. The purposes for them are varied but should always be primarily utilized for two reasons: to lay down the rules and clarify them between all parties and to keep children safe at all times.
A solid agreement should include the following, though parents should also feel free to tailor such agreements depending on their needs and guidelines.
- Outline all safety rules such as forbidding them to ever share any person information online including their address, birthdate, phone number or location of their school or extracurricular activities.
- Create a definitive statement that reflects that they will bring any suspicious or threatening behaviors to your attention. Educate them about their ‘gut feelings’ and trusting that when something doesn’t seem or feel right, that it probably isn’t.
- Include a statement that forbids them to ever agree to any sort of face to face meeting without your knowledge and consent.
- Clarify what type of language and behaviors are acceptable and what isn’t.
- Educate and place limits or expectations on which pictures can or cannot be downloaded online, if ever.
Other inclusions can also be educating kids about how to utilize the ‘ignore’ or ‘blocking’ functions if and when they need to and also explain to them that they are not permitted to visit off-colored sites or those that cost money to be a part of.
Before drafting or signing an agreement be sure to have a serious and thorough conversation with your child so that they understand not only the purpose of this agreement and why they need to sign it, but also so that they understand what the consequences may or could be should they not heed to the contract guidelines. This will ensure that the process is fluid and that they have a clear understanding of the intentions and expectations. Once the computer contract is complete have all parties sign and date it so that you have a copy for referencing.
Computer Monitoring Software
In some cases parents can gain additional protection and assurance by downloading or purchasing one of the many computer monitoring software programs that are available. Such programs allow parents to restrict access to inappropriate websites, will have access to children’s passwords and also be able to see exactly what their children are involved in and doing while they are online.
Computer monitoring software is affordable and has become an essential and vital tool for parents that have children that want and need access to the Internet but also want to keep them safe and responsible. If you’d like to download a free trial of our very own Gecko Monitor, head to our home page here.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 10th, 2013 at 9:19 am and is filed under Children. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.