By literally having the world’s knowledge at your fingertips, the internet can be a daunting place. Even though search engines like Google and social media platforms like Facebook try to create a “child safe” environment for under aged children, some still find ways to go pass those blocks.
It is the duty of parents and guardians to safeguard those children against all the bad lurking behind the screen. If you allow your child to make use of devices that is connected to the internet, make sure they understand the privilege and its boundaries. You should be started by limiting their screen time, and this screen time includes tablets, TV, PC, smart phones etc. Researchers suggest that infants younger than 18 months should have NO screen time. At this age they need to evolve and improve their basic senses, not be amused by a TV or tablet. Face to face interactions is very import for brain stimulation. Children 2 – 5 years should be limited to 1 hour per day, and this should include educational programs instead of your run of the mill cartoons we have these days.
Children 6 and up, including teenagers should be limited to what they have access to, and monitored with parental guidance who can decide to adjust this as and when required with age. Balance is key. Physical activities, family time and other entertainment sessions should take preference before time gets scheduled for screen time. Social media should never replace healthy activities such as sleep, sports and social engagements with family and friends. Advertising can brainwash a child easily in wanting all the “not so good” choices in life, and your child needs to be educated about those and act as the kid’s media mentor. This is very important so the child can understand life is about choices, and they need to understand which is good vs those that are bad. Teach your kid from an early age to use a secure password to protect their identity.
Analysts also warns that it is not just about the time children spend on such devices, but also what they use them for that is an obvious concern. This can cause screen addiction, which is a real-life threat to young children and adults alike. Thus, the importance of you as a parent to be an example to your children is vital. Put those phones away during dinner or other family time. Talk about what is happening in the world, be open and give your child the freedom to learn, but also the surety and knowledge to understand those come with limits.
The internet and other methods of media is supposed to be a tool. If they are left unattended to do what they want on the internet, apps, social sites etc, they open the door for all kinds of evil, including cyber bullying, sexting and other profanities you do not want your kid to be exposed to. That new online friend might just be a predator waiting to attack. These sick and twisted bullies, pedophiles and fraudsters are just waiting to catch some innocent bait by giving the impression that they are experts, the good friend or caring. They lure the child in and over time gain respect and trust which will be used against them.
To give them free reign for example on Youtube to watch a video, will lead to a bunch of other “suggested” videos. This will lead to them watching more and more and eventually, potentially end up in them watching something they were not intended to see, or allowed to have watched in the first place.
Know your child, talk to them, see how this impacts their life. Explain the danger. If screen time is suddenly becoming “a thing” with high demand from them, understand why. Monitoring their usage can also be an option, with several apps available. Know their online friends. Make sure you create a child-safe environment for your children. Remember, although this should start at home, with you, there are various public places where your child could be vulnerable where WiFi is open and free to use by anyone. Make sure your child can trust you, and you can trust your child. You ought to be the first person they come to when they see something that makes them uncomfortable. When that happens, be there for them, guide them and support them. With several new technology trends coming the future, this will become more and more real in everyone’s life’s. Rather be prepared with them.