As parents, it’s a bit challenging to monitor our children on a 24/7 basis, and keeping them safe online can prove to be much tougher. In a Consumer Reports article published on their website: one-third of the 20 million minors using social media websites were 13 years old and below. Most of these young users were younger than 10 years old, and most of their accounts weren’t supervised by their parents. Sadly, over 1 million of these kids were threatened, harassed, or subjected to other forms of cyber-bullying. Clearly, these defeats COPPA’s (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) purpose of protecting a child’s right against inappropriate content online.
Since smartphones, tablets, and high-speed broadband connectivity are fast becoming daily necessities, we, as parents, should learn more on how to educate our kids about online safety and using their gadgets responsibly. With the availability of these smart devices, information is basically within their reach. So, how can we be more digital-literate and teach our kids to be more responsible online?
Keep Yourself Updated About the Latest Tech Trends
With new gadgets, mobile applications, services, and games introduced almost every day, parents need to keep abreast with these tech trends. These open new platforms and opportunities for them to communicate, connect, and share information with anyone. Since most parents are unaware about these new developments in technology, iKeepSafe and Verizonwireless developed workshop programs to help educate parents about online behavior, relationships, ethics, and even cyber-security. This lets you immerse yourself in the product, service, or program that your kids usually use. It also gives you a perspective on how they usually use these types of technologies. When you begin to understand and pay attention to what they are using, you will be able to decide if these are appropriate for their age or not. If you’re constantly updated about the latest technologies, you’ll make better decisions based on first-hand experience.
Start Them Early and Teach Them About Online Safety
Our kids live in a wide and wired world, and they’re more tech-savvy than most adults. According to a report published by PCMag.com: At six-months old, they usually play with their parents’ devices. Between the ages of 2 and 5-years old, they learn how to operate a computer and play games on them. 72% of kids aged below 5-years old, spend almost half a day online. Since kids are naturally curious, we need to start them early and teach them about the Internet. Start by sitting beside them to answer whatever question that comes to their minds. Show them how things work in cyberspace and why they shouldn’t go to certain websites. Also, you can teach them about online courtesy, and how to keep them safe while surfing the net.
Always remember that digital literacy is an essential part of raising children nowadays. Setting boundaries are always points of discussion between children and their parents. Most of the time, they see this as a form of punishment and they will find ways to go around it. But in this day and age, it’s important to set these boundaries in order to keep them safe online. Basically, it’s like setting house rules which were agreed upon by everyone. The American Society of Pediatrics recommended that parents should limit their children’s use of gadgets and online services to 2 hours per day. Also, it’s best to talk to your kids about when and where they can use their devices. Set the hours and areas where they can use or not use them. Some parents would offer them as rewards for their kids; for getting their assigned chores done and for good behavior. We can always enforce limits but they also need their virtual space.
Always Keep an Open Mind and Be Their Best Source of Information
It’s always important to keep a balance between privacy and openness, especially with kids. Being a digital-literate adult, we have to teach our children how to be critical thinkers both online and offline. While they’re taught to solve simple and complex problems in school, we also have to teach them to think critically while using the Internet, especially when we’re not around. Aside from teaching them to make wise decisions on their own, you also need to encourage them to discuss anything with you. By paying attention and actively involving in their interests, it will help create a bond with your kids. Constructive dialogues and your genuine curiosity will help them be more responsible Netizens.
It’s our right to worry about our child’s safety online. With digital threats and issues growing almost daily, parents have to make a stand and find ways to protect our kids. As well-meaning parents, we want them to grow and develop in this Digital Age and hopefully, they will make the right choices for a better future.
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