Many parents are intimidated by the internet because their kids seem to pick it up so much more quickly than they do. Kids have more flexible minds and are better at learning all kinds of new things.
For this reason it can be very difficult to limit where they go online. Software intended to restrict their access can often be worked around, or they can simply go to a friend’s house or cybercafÃ©. They’ll have their own ideas about what it’s appropriate for them to explore in this exciting new world – but why is that?
From the moment they’re born, children want to explore. That’s how they learn about the world. Often it involves an element of risk-taking (just learning to walk is risky when you fall down all the time!), but we manage that risk by doing things with them.
The best parents’ online safety tips involve going with children to explore the internet. The earlier you do this, the better.
- Make sure to do it before computers have entered their lives in other places like school or friends’ houses.
- Make spending time online something which you enjoy together. That way, even when kids start using the internet independently, they’ll be much more willing to talk to you about what they’re doing there.
Children are at their most vulnerable when they’re using the internet to escape from the rest of their lives. They are then much more likely to develop strong attachments and put too much trust in people they meet there, and they’re also more likely to keep secrets from their parents.
If the internet is, from the start, a part of ordinary family life, they’re less likely to be persuaded that things they do there should be hidden. So don’t be shocked by things they tell you and don’t let yourself look hopelessly befuddled, either – just treat their internet conversations as you would any others and show them that you’re willing to keep them company everywhere they go.