Internet is no longer a privilege - it is a necessity. It is something we have heavily come to depend on. Sometimes it is hard to believe that till just about a few decades ago, completing a project meant take the time out to go to a library, armed with a notebook and all kinds of drawing and writing materials, and going through piles of books to compile decent amount of information, which would then go into a project. Gone are the days when an assignment meant creating working models. Everybody has become tech-savvy, so that now we would rather prefer animation to working models, power-point presentations to actual flow-charts. As with everything in the world, this has several pros and cons (personally, more cons, I think). However, one inevitable outcome of all this is - everybody is on the internet. However, the immediate concern that arises in the mind is, everything on the internet is accessible to everyone! How then, can you protect your child and ensure his/her safety online?
5 Point Plan to Ensure Your Child's Online Safety
Here are five very basic and easy to implement ways in which you can protect your child from bad influences on the internet.
Fix up a time in the day when your child can access the internet. Do not let your child access the internet during any other times of the day. However, be fair when you are doing this. The child should not feel like you are bossing on him/her or are being unreasonable or rude. It should be a fair game. The main reason behind this is - if your child develops a rebellious attitude, he/she is going to want to break the rules! This may in turn, make things get out of control. Also, decide on a time when you will be in the house. You need not pull up a chair and sit behind your child and monitor each and every page he/she visits. But the fact that you are around will prevent your child from being naughty. Also insist on leaving the door to your child's room ajar, if not completely open. Do not let him/her bolt the doors from inside the room.
Make sure your computer is well protected. Put passwords on programs that you think are harmful for your child. You can even store games within password protected folders. Make sure you create a secure password. Passwords are a good way to keep your children out of stuff that you think is inappropriate for them. However, if you do create a password, make sure you know how to recover your data from an event of password hacking. Kids nowadays, know more than we can imagine! So keep yourself updated on the various hacking software, and make sure your child does not lay hands on any of them.
Block access to all those websites that may contain content - including the actual content on the website as well as advertisements of products and services - that you think is inappropriate for your child. Also, never edit the settings when you want to use the computer. You can access all the websites you want in other ways. Create different user profiles for the computer with different internet settings. Again, remember to protect the user profiles with suitable password.
Online shopping makes life a lot easy - with books, clothes and all sorts of things available online. You may want to purchase a few goods for your kids; a limited edition book, or a special edition CD or DVD of a movie, etc. Make all these purchases yourself. Do not reveal your PayPal details and credit card details to your kids. You will hence be able to keep a tab on what your kids buy online. Allowing your child to make individual purchases online could be twice as dangerous. Firstly, you do not know what they are purchasing and whether it is alright for them to purchase it or not. Second, you will not have any control over how much money your child spends online! This will include membership fees to websites, actual purchases, and a lot of other things.
The best way to restrict your kids online is to make them responsible and to make them understand WHY they should not do certain things online. Gain their confidence. Do not simply lay down rules - make them understand why you are doing what you are doing. Kids nowadays, belong to the Y Generation - they always want to know why. This is not a part of being audacious or rebellious. This is just the way kids are coming to be now. But most of the time, parents do not know how to deal with this constant questioning, and this is when they bring in the whole authority issue. Understand this, and act accordingly.
I believe this has given you some hope about your child's safety online. Educating yourself and your kids about internet safety should be the top most thing on your list when you are introducing the world wide web to your child. Making your child grow up to be a responsible individual of the society will take care of most problems regarding safety in all sense - even on the internet. Do not use force - it will only drive your child further in the direction of misbehaving and overthrowing your authority. Instead, stress more on using logic and convince your kids about your points of view. All the best!