Nearly every child in America is familiar with the Internet. And because children of today have grown up in a world with technology at their fingertips, most are savvy when it comes to using the Internet. In fact, most kids of today are better skilled with computers than their parents and their teachers. This is a good thing, but at the same time, it means parents have to be extra cautious about what kids are doing online.
The Internet can be a very dangerous place, especially for those without a lot of life experiences – those that are naïve in some ways. Although today’s youth may begin using the Internet at a very young age, they still have not experienced enough of life to always understand that they are vulnerable targets to certain types of predators.
Most parents take the time to instruct their children from an early age about online etiquette and safety – the dos and don’ts of where they can and cannot visit and who it is safe to talk to. But as children age, they tend to find websites that offer new entertainment factors. From sites that offer nothing but games or videos to chat lines and forums intended for older audiences, kids can find websites that entertain in a way that is inappropriate for younger age groups.
The problem is not so much that the entertainment is inappropriate; much more worrisome are the sinister characters that are often lurking in these places, waiting to prey on unsuspecting victims. Wise parents know it is okay to visit the computer history tab and to even use parental locks to keep children safe while online.
Many parents go as far as to keep laptops and computers in central locations. This makes it easy to look over the user’s shoulders to see what sites are being visited. But what happens when kids visit friends? Unfortunately, this is often the time when kids take advantage of a parent being gone or when a parent is inattentive to what sites are being visited online.
Reasons to Talk to Kids’ Friends’ Parents About Internet Safety
Kids will be kids, and when given the opportunity, they are likely to take advantage of it. This is only natural. And this is the main reason many wise parents decide to talk to their kids’ friends’ parents about Internet safety.
It gives them a chance to find out if the same Internet safety guidelines and practices are followed in the friend’s home. If nothing else, the conversation can provide a certain level of peace of mind. Ideas and stories can be shared.
Because the real issue is the online safety of children, everyone is on board with the topic. Below are the top three reasons for having the discussion in the first place:
- Children that use the Internet may be exposed to cyber bullying
- Children that use the Internet may be exposed to pornography
- Children that use the Internet may be exposed to child predators
About Cyber Bullying:
Cyber bullying refers to incidences when kids, including teens, are harassed, threatened, or tormented in some way through the use of the Internet or other digital technology.
The Internet makes it possible for kids to accidentally or purposely view pornographic material.
About Child Predators:
One of the things that make the Internet so wonderful is that people can remain anonymous, but this is also what can make the Internet such a dangerous place. Kids and teens don’t always know who they are interacting with. The Internet is a playground for pedophiles and other sexual predators.
Another important reason to talk to your kids’ friends’ parents about Internet safety is related to identity theft and personal safety. This is a very real concept in today’s world. Caution should be used when entering information online. This includes giving out phone numbers and addresses.
The Internet is a wonderful learning resource. Kids should be introduced to technology at a very early age, and parents should encourage a continued interest. But parents will have to do their part to ensure kids are safe while online.
Contributor: Debbie Allen is a freelance writer who writes about a wide variety of topics such parenting issues.