Online Parenting

Being a parent today means looking after your children in the real world as well as the virtual world

Tags: Cyber crimeSymantec Corporation
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Online Parenting
By  Jason Saundalkar , Clayton Vallabhan Published  April 12, 2011

Being a parent today means looking after your children in the real world as well as the virtual world. Here we show you how to look after your kids in the virtual world using the right tools and some good old fashioned chats with your kids...

If as a parent you aren’t up-to-date on the latest Internet fads or websites popular with your children, that’s okay. It’s not necessary to be up-to-speed on everything in order for you to help your children enjoy the Internet safely. What you need to do, initially, is talk to your children about what they are doing on the web, then explain your family rules and then repeat the talk every year until they are old enough to look after themselves.

- Before you begin talking to your children however, it’s important to understand how they feel and respond when it comes to their digital lives and the issues they face. Here’s a few statistics to help you along:

• Children feel personally responsible: more than seven in ten (77%) felt responsible for downloading a virus and nearly two thirds (63%) felt guilty for responding to an online scam

• Over half of children (53%) download music or videos, yet only 38% of parents are aware of this

• The majority of parents (66%) have house rules for using the Internet, but only 37% have set parental controls on their computers

• Just over a fifth (22%) think it’s best to empower children to make the right decisions about online behavior. However, more than two fifths (44%) desire full control over their child’s Internet activity

• The financial cost of resolving cybercrime is high, but for nearly a third of victims (28%) the biggest hassle is the time is takes to sort things out

• Of the emotional reactions of children to negative online situations, 39% felt angry, 36% felt upset, 34% felt fearful/worried, 34% felt afraid, 31% felt annoyed, 28% felt shocked, 26% felt disgusted, 20% felt confused, 18% felt distrustful, and 18% felt embarrassed/ashamed

• 77% of children feel responsible for downloading a virus

• 63% of children feel responsible for responding to online scams

• 67% of parents show their children how to prevent future cybercrime occurrences

Protect your children

Here are some steps families can take to protect young children from the hazards of the Internet and computer technology. First things first, it’s important that parents recognise that adult supervision and advice are essential, not optional. Just as we teach children how to safely cross the street, we should monitor what children are doing on
the computer.

Start by discussing and making rules with your children about when and how long they can be on-line, and appropriate areas to visit. Bookmark their favourite sites to provide easy access. Be in the same room when a young child uses the computer, or keep the computer in an area where other family members are usually present, to promote interaction and exchange about the technology.

Computers are redefining how we interact with others and gain knowledge about the world around us, and they are increasingly important in our daily lives. We can’t pretend these changes aren’t happening. By taking responsibility for children’s computer use, families can greatly reduce potential hazards, and at the same time allow their children access to many new positive learning experiences.

The growing use of computers demands better monitoring, not a moratorium. At a time when many young children still cannot access this important technology, a moratorium on computers is the last thing we need.

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