I can remember the first time I was ever given internet access. I was 11 years old and it was my first ICT lesson at secondary school.
We all sat expectantly, wishing that the matronly lady teacher (a future nemesis and friend of mine) giving us our log in details would hurry up. We had surfing to do, whatever that was.
A few minutes later, I was typing boobs into every place where boobs could be written. None appeared. I was utterly distraught.
An hour later I was on Wikipedia doing what I was supposed to be doing feeling so here what uninspired. The internet then was a world of AOL, Infoseek and ‘under construction’.
H*ll Google was not yet king. Facebook wasn’t founded for another 5 years in 2004 and YouTube the following year. It was simply a different world.
Much of my downtime on the net back then was spent researching dog breeds, and typing in female names to see the kind of images a boy is interested in.
Kids these days, cliche intended, are spoilt. And they will never understand the struggle of the dial-up era.
They can search for anything and be given countless search results in milliseconds. They don’t have to act like their cave men parents and manually type, they speak to a device and hey presto! Maybe a book would be safer…
They no longer play with toys themselves either, YouTube will show them, other children, doing that. I will never understand why this is fun, and for that I am grateful.
And if you want to play computer games with your friends, you don’t even have to see each other in person, you can build things and kill each other’s avatars from the other side of the world.
Homework is done on the internet completely now, instead of the internet being a tool to help you research a topic.
In short, it is becoming ever more difficult to function in today’s society without embracing the internet. And I’m sure as most children will enthusiastically tell you this would constitute abuse anyway.
And those precious thirty minutes of solace this provides parents with, to try and fight off the overdraft of housework is a blessing. Which even the most conscientious of parent would find it hard to deny. Sometimes it’s just needed.
Unfortunately, as anyone with a modicum of sensibility will be aware, the net just isn’t a place entirely of sunshine and roses.
Today alone I have seen reports of a mock-up of a murderous Peppa pig cartoon depicting infanticide and more.
A character attached to the end of YouTube videos named momo and apparently trying to message children. This would be sinister enough withholding the fact that it is apparently encouraging our little ones to amongst other things burn the house down and kill themselves. See the article below for more.
Even the money drain which is the LOL doll surprise thingy majigys have an app. At first, this seems legit it allows children to speak to the characters. It isn’t long before this too turns dark and the wording of which quickly leaves you uneasy.
All that aside you have the genuine mistakes that could leave children exposed to less than satisfactory content. Search mishaps for instance. Searching for pussy cat, night time in Paris, or any swear word a child may type in could have frightening results. Which perhaps answer the question is it safe to let my kids online in itself.
NOTE: Since writing this I’ve come across another post covering the same topic, which covers even more dangers. You can find it here.
So it then leaves the question of how do we allow our children online safely. In short, it will never be completely sound but there are ways to reduce the risks. Here are some tips that could improve internet safety for kids.
- If your child has their own device, have access to it at all times, know the password.
- Time constraints, don’t allow them unlimited access. There just is no need for them to be trawling YouTube for hours a day.
- Use kid-friendly apps you have personally vetted.
- Explain thoroughly that there should be under no circumstances be secrets, or secret things. (This applies to real life, as far as I’m concerned too)
- If possible block or uninstall the web browser completely.
- Your broadband provider will provide all kinds of parental controls and firewalls, use their tools for web safety!
- If there is the option ensure they use a child’s account. Netflix provides a brilliant option to go this.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to watch children every second of the day. And whilst it is important to give them some trust, there are some tools that can help you keep your children safe online.
Some of the tools I personally use are listed below, and I recommend looking at them and their capability if nothing else.
A child-friendly search engine powered by Google itself. Aimed at younger children
Google’s family link for parents
Allows you remote access to your child’s device. The ability to see where they are, set time limits. Check how long they are spending on each app, which you must also authorize the installation of. And also restricts which apps are available too.
Click here to see a brilliantly informative post from Dadoralive.com for more info.
Google’s family link for children
The counterpart for the above. Which should be installed on your child’s device if you wish to use.
Which should cut down what content is available from YouTubes library. Honestly, some music videos are even to explicit.
Previously published here and reprinted with the author’s permission.
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