|Reddit is a social content aggregation and discussion platform where users rate posts or gain new knowledge. However, the website is also known for hosting unsavory contents / Photo by: Peter Ksinan via 123RF|
In Ginger Gorman’s article for Australia’s national broadcaster ABC, she narrated how her friend was chatting with her 15-year-old son about social media when he stated his preference for Reddit over other social media websites. Gorman’s friend was taken aback when Gorman described Reddit as “the cesspits of the internet.”
Reddit is a social content aggregation and discussion platform where users rate posts or gain new knowledge. However, the website is also known for hosting unsavory contents such as hate speech, child porn, and sexualized photos of unconsenting women. Given this fact, Reddit and a lot of others may not be the kind of platform you want your child to visit, but it is practically impossible for parents to make sure that children only access safe sites on the internet.
Helping Parents Understand the Online World
Extreme bullying can occur online, as bullies can hide their identities. Of course, this does not mean that the internet should be banned or even prohibit your kids from going online. According to Brian Barrett of Wired, a monthly American magazine, keeping children off the online world is akin to “keeping them away from electricity or indoor plumbing.”
Parents and kids alike can learn amazing things online and interact with people from various backgrounds. However, parents should do whatever they can to keep their children safe online as well as to educate them on the dangers and benefits that the internet brings. Parents clearly remember the first time they ventured into the vast world of the internet. As for kids, they are digital natives as they spend more time at home online.
Currently, the structures that govern us in real life do not exist in cyberspace. Law enforcement all over the globe is still coming to grips with cyberhate, while tech companies have yet to prove themselves that they care about the public seriously. Still, online safety 101 begins now!
|Extreme bullying can occur online, as bullies can hide their identities. Of course, this does not mean that the internet should be banned or even prohibit your kids from going online / Photo by: yiorgosgr via 123RF|
How to Keep Your Child Safe on the Internet
1. Build Trust – Talk and teach them about relevant life skills. A few years ago, two teenage girls put a serial predator, who targeted young girls and was capable of violence, in jail. How did they do it? One of them told her mother what was going on. Jess, now 20, and her mother Annie had a strong and trusting bond.
Earlier on, Annie and her husband openly discussed social media and its dangers to Jess. Annie stated, “We really tried to remove any and all barriers for her coming forward to us if things turned dark.” Because of Jess’ strong relationship with her mother, she was able to open up to her family when things went wrong. Jess’s family reported the man and she knew her parents would have her back and protect her.
Annie advises parents to talk and forge a trusting relationship with their children. She added, “They need to trust that they can come to you without getting into trouble.” For Annie, this is the best way to teach children about online safety. With an open line of communication, your kids will most likely approach you when they see a distressing post or experience bullying. You can argue that you can always monitor your child’s online behavior using Net Nanny or any software capable of setting time limits and restricting content. However, unless you explain why these restrictions are important, that particular idea might be for naught.
Again, children spend their time online. Therefore, parents need to trust their kids that they’re making their way through life productively.
2. Set Rules But Make Adjustments When Necessary – It’s okay to establish house rules and regulations, but each child is different. Kids from a certain age group have “different inclinations” and needs as well as the amount of oversight required. Hence, you might need to create separate rules for each child depending on their age.
Founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute Stephen Balkam said, “As your teen gets older, they’re going to be far more likely to find ways around any parental control that you put on there.” For younger children, parents can help them set up their phone or tablet and create a strong password, stated executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance Michael Kaiser. He also suggested creating rules “over who can and can’t download apps.”
It’s unreasonable to ban phones and digital technologies considering that we rely more on technology to accomplish everyday tasks. Children can utilize technology to stream lessons to sick classmates or communicate with sick family members. Annie asserted, “Kids are going to get online whether you approve or not. It's just the world today.”
3. Set An Example – It’s time to upgrade your digital habits. It’s not only the time you spend on your devices but also how you maintain them. Get your children involved in your digital affairs such as letting them know what pictures you’re sharing of them. It is also advisable to delete any embarrassing or personal post.
The realm of cyberspace is a substantial part of our world now. With benefits also lie the risks and dangers that lurk within the deep, dark recesses of the internet. It’s easy to impose a ban, but it’s better to educate and forge a strong bond with your child.
|Children spend their time online. Therefore, parents need to trust their kids that they’re making their way through life productively / Photo by: primagefactory via 123RF|