PixabayMotherDaughterThe problem of parenting in the digital age occurs when parents don’t know enough about both their children and the websites they inhabit. Learning about the technology your children use on a daily basis will give you a deeper insight into their lives. Teaching yourself how to use social media and other common apps will also help you best learn how to guide your children on the Internet.

There are many benefits to using the internet, but as a parent, you also need to know about the dangers. For example, the World Wide Web is a great place for your children to study and learn, grow socially, and have fun. When used incorrectly it can be a dangerous place with predators and unsavory material. Here is the problem of parenting in the digital age and how you can inform yourselves as parents about the pros and cons of the internet.

Dangers of the Internet for Kids 

In some ways, it seems harmless to let your children use the internet. It is an excellent teaching tool used to do research for school projects, explore different cultures, and even learn a new language. Unfortunately, there are many predators that lurk on the internet that may be detrimental to your child’s physical or mental well-being. Here are some of the dangers for children using the internet.

  1. Pornography 

One problem of parenting in the digital age comes down to internet searches. More than 1 in 8 online searches are related to pornography. The internet is a wealth of dangerous pornography. There is a wealth of graphic content glamorizing sexually degrading women, violent sexual behavior, incest, and more that is available for free online. One disturbing statistic reveals that 57% of young girls and 83% of underage boys will have seen group sex online before they turn 18 years old.

Whatever your stance is on pornography, every parent agrees that it is not something that is suitable for underage children. Being exposed to pornography at a young age is scientifically proven to warp children’s view of the opposite sex, their own self-worth, and can cause permissive attitudes about sex.

  1. Online Predators and Sexting 

Because children can be manipulated, it makes them an easy target for predators in chat rooms and on social media. When you do not monitor the friends your children are talking to online, you leave your child open to various forms of abuse online. A predator may bully your child into participating in an online sex chat or video sex chat. The predator may then keep those images and distribute them online.

It is estimated that nearly 1 in 5 teenagers will share a sexual text they received from someone else. This includes nude or semi-nude images. So whether your child is sexting an adult or someone their own age, sharing sexual information or photos can be detrimental to their emotional health, their human rights, and their reputation. 

  1. Meeting Someone Online 

Meeting someone in person that you initially met on the internet is something that no one should take lightly, especially children. Two people should have been talking for a long time and should confirm each other’s identity via video chat before agreeing to meet. When getting together, both should bring a friend and meet in a public place to ensure they are out of harm’s way. These are not things that children think before meeting a stranger from the internet. This is especially terrifying since children are more open to sexual exploitation, assault, and abuse when they meet a stranger from the internet.

  1. Cyberbullying 

Cyberbullying is an umbrella term that may be used to refer to a number of actions. Impersonation is one of them. This could mean someone is pretending to be your child or is “catfishing” them by pretending to be someone else in order to gain your child’s trust, often using a false profile or profile picture.

According to the website Bullying Statistics, studies show that half of all adolescents have already or will eventually experience cyberbullying and 1 in 3 youths will receive a personal threat via the internet.

Other cyberbullying actions include cyberstalking, trolling (saying hurtful, offensive, or sexually explicit comments for the sake of being mean or shocking), abusive threats of bodily harm, and outing. Outing is an especially painful form of cyberbullying, as it involves someone revealing personal information about your children to an online form such as on social media. This personal information could involve a sexually explicit action or photo, giving out someone’s address, outing someone’s sexuality, and revealing other hurtful secrets.

How to Parent in the Digital Age 

Now that you know the problem of parenting in the digital age, it’s time to see what you can do about it. Much of the problem with parenting in the digital age comes from not understanding the dangers that are out there and not paying enough attention to what your children are doing. If you want to be a responsible cyber parent, here are some of the things you should be doing. 

  1. Learn What Your Children Are Doing: There is a fine line between being a helicopter parent and being a safe one. Communicate regularly with your children so that you have a better idea of what your children are doing on their computers and smartphones. Who are their friends? Who are they texting regularly? Check the internet history on your child’s computer and smartphone to see if they are running into any dangerous activity. 
  1. Look for Signs of Trouble: Does your child spend inordinate amounts of time on social media, seem sleep deprived or play video games almost constantly online? Are they seeming more sexually active or have a drastic change in mood or attitude? These may be signs that your children are experiencing some negative aspects of the internet. 
  1. Teach Your Children Internet Safety: The best way to be a responsible parent of children using the internet is to communicate regularly with your young ones about the possible dangers they may encounter online. Ask them who they are talking to, remind them the importance of being safe on social media and that whatever they post will remain there forever.
  1. Encourage Good Behavior: Young children should be encouraged to only use the internet during the week to study, with X amount of online leisure time. Another way to encourage responsible internet usage is to put your computer in the family room of your home. This way your child is not allowed to have too much privacy while surfing the internet. You can also encourage good behavior online and have a positive attitude. Your children will be more inclined to listen to you if you are familiar with and excited about the positive aspects of the Internet, instead of simply hammering away at its dangers.

Author Bio:- Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.