The Truth about Introducing the Web to Kids
As a parent, It can be seem risky and dangerous when it comes to introducing your child to the web, and I don’t blame them! We have all heard about the facebook pedophiles, the scam sites, and the pornagraphy, so there is no question why so many parents are so scared to introduce their child to the internet.
I can agree on this in a lot of levels , but I don’t think keeping them from a computer is the answer. The internet has tons of useful programs, websites, information, and much more that a child can use to benefit with homework and school.
What Dangers Are There?
There are many dangers hidden inside the vast realm of the interwebs, and listing them all would be nearly impossible. Starting with one of the most known and feared threats on the internet when your little one is surfing the web, Pornagraphy. This happens quite often and can traumatize a child in an instant.
These dangers typically occur when a child is on an unfamiliar website with multiple advertisements on the site. Children will click on these ads and pretty soon seven different windows open with other advertisements that lead to pop up videos and pictures, which we all know the internet isn’t shy of placing a porn ad inside of the other mass of advertisements and let’s not forget the viruses that come with!
Social media has been rising in popularity for years now, reaching very high numbers of active users, a good portion of these users being minors under the age of 18. The risk of social media and children is the sick and twisted people in this world who are looking for children. Pedophiles, murderers, slave traffickers, ect, all have facebooks or some sort of social media profile. These people will scout out children by pictures, stalk their pages, and make fake accounts to message children and find exact locations.
But social media also has a way of influences kids to try dangerous activities trending through the internet, for example the salt and ice challenge, the smiley face burn challenge, and the most lethal so far, the Tide pod challenge. These trending challenges have caused numerous injuries and deaths, as well as make America look even dumber than we already do.
Cyberbullying Should be Explained
Cyberbullying can also become a horrific and depressing threat to your child and you! Social media being the corporate in charge. Children will post something and another child will comment with nasty and rude remarks ruining the others self esteem and sense of self worth.There is also the danger of a child releasing a photo of themselves exposing their body and it ending up in the wrong hands or worse, it being posted onto a social media platform itself.
Overall mental and physical health is a risk that needs to be discussed when we talk about children and screen time. The internet can become an unhealthy addiction that can lead into worse health issues such as obesity, diabetes, carpal tunnel, and computer vision syndrome (CVS). All of these health problems will affect your body in a negative way, especially with excessive screen use.
Kids might Easily get Caught up In Scams
Scams, this is a big one for kids getting into downloading files and media like music or games. The child just found out he can download music for free on multiple websites from a friend, without supervision the child open a website that is covered in advertisements and fake download buttons. He clicks on multiple boxes and is told to enter personal information. That fast your computer could be hacked, catch a virus, or even have you or your child’s identity stolen. This happens pretty often, but most cases end up with a nasty virus on their PC.
How Do I Protect My Child?
Protecting your child is as simple as warning them about these dangers and making it clear that these are real dangers and they are not to be joked about. Sit by your child’s side during their first years of internet access, monitor what websites they are surfing, and find ones you can decide as a parent are safe. Eventually you should be able to check on them less and less once your trust and their confidence get stronger, it can be tough!
Many parents have made contracts with their older children for when they can use the internet, how long can stay logged on, and what content they are looking at. This is a good idea in my opinion just because you have control and you can make it very clear to your children that the internet is a privilege, but also this gives children an introduction to agreement and compromise through a contract.
It may be An Option to Take Extra Security Measures
Another solution is installing security software that allows child locks on dangerous websites, programs, and any other content not needed to be seen by children. Some of these softwares also offer screen recording so you can see where your child has searched and what they are surfing in real time. A few good ones are: ContentWatch Net Nanny 7, Qustodio, Kaspersky Safe Kids, Symantec Norton Family Premier, but there are tons out there that work just as well.
Stressing the issue of privacy is a very good thing to teach your children. This is important because many children want to tell people where they live, how old they are, phone number, and other personal information that a hacker or anyone could use to cause harm. This is even friends, you never know who will turn on you in the future, identity theft can be a scary thing. Teach your children their privacy and the importance of it before it is too late.
The Benefits Of The Internet
Despite the many dangers that can be found on the internet, there are helpful and safe benefits that your child can use. Every student is going to have to do a research project in school, and with the way kids are today, there is no way you can get a child to read a book to find research for a project.
There are too many screens distracting them, that’s why you might as well have them do the research on the computer. Google is a popular search engine that has a vast selection of content on nearly everything you can think of. This is a helpful tool for a student who needs fast facts or an arrangement of information to finish a project.
So What Are the Top Programs for Kids
Microsoft office programs such as Word, Publisher, and Powerpoint teach your child about documentation and writing, but also everyday skills that can come in handy later on in life. These programs are also helpful for completing school assignments, and are most likely the only form of file the teacher will accept.
Typing on the keyboard encourages learning receptors in a child’s brain when first figuring out where the keys are and building speed. It also is an easy way to incorporate learning the alphabet and typing at the same time!
Social media and games can be good for everyone’s overall health, child or adult. This is because of the dopamine being released in your brain, that dopamine is released every time you score a point on a game or get a like on facebook. The dopamine is what feels good, basically it is the feeling of “fun” or “happy”, the feeling showers over you, if you have ever heard of good stress, well this is it. The good feeling effects can help with self esteem and self worth levels and can promote confidence, but then again too much computer time can be harmful as well.
Interacting On The Web is far Different Than in Daily Life
Interacting in social media is also a stepping stone into healthier social interactions and social satisfaction. Finding a group with the same interest can save a child from going into depression because of problems in school. Social media can often be an escape to a lot of teens who are stressed or insecure, and they use message boards and other platforms to connect with like minded people.
This also helps with a child’s literacy skills and communication development. Texting someone involves reading the message and then comprehending the question to answer. You can take as long as you want to reply, unlike face to face interaction where you are expected to respond directly after the statement was spoken. This grace period in between replying to texts or messages can be a huge learning benefit to children who have anxiety and have a hard time processing quickly or responding at all. This gives the child time to think about their response and change it if it doesn’t meet what they are trying to say.
Academic Websites are Gold to a Kid
Academic websites are gold to parents once their children get hooked. “Mom, I’m bored!”, “Go play your math game on the computer.” These websites offer fun and educational games just for kids. From math to reading, to puzzles and thinking games, your child will be beyond busy and it’s helping them learn. There are also just straight tutor sites for older kids who need help with studying or homework, honestly the internet is one giant tutor all you need to do is search with the right keywords and phrases. Some websites I recommend are IXL.com, ABCmouse.com, Funbrain.com, sylvanlearning.com, and smarttutor.com
A Kids Creativity can take them Very Far
Creativity is a huge benefit to your child’s mind and learning strategies. Being able to solve problems by thinking outside of the box is an important skill for life and to practice it as a young child can have life long benefits. Just using the paint application every computer has can sprout a huge growth in your child’s creativity.
The World is Filled with Mass Information right At Your Fingertips
The most important benefit the web can have for children is the information. The information is the most important because you can have any question answered within a matter of seconds. You don’t know who the 21st president was? You google it and find out it was Chester A. Arthur without even having to ask anyone other than the internet. A child could learn anything they could ever want to know with enough study and research, but he could do it because he has the world at his fingertips.
The point I am trying to get at isn’t child lock every scary website and baby them while they use a computer, but let yourself decide on what you are ok with and what you aren’t. Not every parent wants their 10 year old on facebook interacting with other users, but not every parent wants their child feeling like they are being watched while surfing the web. You have the power over your child, you are the parent, what you think is best is what is best for your own child. Go explore the internet and come up with a plan on when they will use the web, what they will use, and how often, but it’s all personal preference when it comes to this kind of topic. Good Luck!