Internet Safety: Should Parents Determine Their Child’s Apps?

Media has changed the world drastically over the past decade. We live in a time when government officials communicate using the internet as their primary source. Every news, good or bad, is available openly on sources such as Facebook, YouTube etc. which accessed day in and day out by children. How can we protect our children from all this negativity?

Today’s children have so many technological devices to choose from. There’s tablets, cell phones, computers, and even watches that connect straight to your cell phone. Today’s kids love to have these devices with them all the time. Most kids love to play video games online.

There are advantages that children have with the internet. It’s a fact that there are many websites to help them in learning things and even assist them with homework and school projects. Kids of any age can browse the web for a particular subject that they have difficulty in to help them figure out a solution so they can understand the subject better. This gives children the ability to learn independently at home. They can check their grammar on their English homework, math problems can be answered with just a click of the mouse. Children can download games for any grade that will enable them to study straight from their desktop.

High school students can easily do research online, whether it’s for a class project or preparing a speech for debate club, there’s no need to use encyclopedias anymore when Wikipedia is at their fingertips. The dictionary and thesaurus are also on the internet. Many websites are out there to assist you with finding the right word for a difficult sentence. Learning a new language is also available online as well as college courses. Although there is a charge for those classes through the college or university.

However, there are a few disadvantages for children who love to be online. Parents may not be able to track what they’re doing if the child doesn’t want them to see. In today’s world, there are choices parents have that will allow them to see what their children are watching online and who they’re communicating with. Children tend to search the web simply for their entertainment. They may just like watching cartoons, download music or videos, and play games. However, parents are concerned about the subject matter that their children are viewing. They can place a lock on certain websites such as adult websites that may be obscene to immature audiences, they can be locked through parental control settings.

There are primarily 7 dangers of children being online and what they could face on a regular basis:

First is cyberbullying. It means that kids treat each other in a cruel and unsafe manner. If a peer is mad at another student he/she can hack into their emails and social media profiles to create lies and spread rumors about the person. 20% of teens say someone has written negatively about them on social media and 9% say they’ve been threatened.

Second is predators. Predators are dangerous people on the internet who might want to exploit a child sexually or financially or in some other way by enticing the child while chatting or using other social media. 76% of predators are ages 26 and older. 47% are 20 years older than their victims. They tend to target teenagers because they are vulnerable, easy to talk with, long to be liked by someone. 83% of victims have met their offenders in person and have willingly gone somewhere with them. The dangerous part of this is that the victim doesn’t realize that this can lead to kidnapping, even abduction.

Third is gaming. Online games can involve sexual activity, violence, foul language, and crime. These games allow kids to interact with people from all over the world. Most gamers will wear headsets and can talk directly into the microphone. 13% of teens say they can buy Mature-rated games by themselves.

Fourth is social media. Children need to be careful while posting pictures of themselves on social media. 40% of teens say they’ve seen photos of their friends passed out, drunk, or doing drugs, all 13 years old and younger. 11% of kids spend at least 3 hours of the day on social media.

Fifth is sexting. Sexting is when kids think it’s alright to take nude pictures of themselves or others and share them. This isn’t acceptable and can lead to serious consequences if they’re seen by the wrong person.

Sixth is pornography. Viewing pornographic content at an immature and impressionable age may allow kids to think that it’s alright to have multiple partners and can cause issues later in life.

Seventh is posting inappropriate videos on YouTube. YouTube allows videos to be seen from all around the globe and may cause your privacy to be compromised.

Internet safety is an important part of parenting today. A federal law Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act was created to protect kids who are 13 years and younger. It requires websites to ask for parental permission before allowing a child to play a game or enter a contest. Parents should know passwords and keep the computer in the main room in the house to monitor them. Parents can teach their kids what is appropriate and what is not.

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