When we think about the dangers of the internet, we tend to think about adult predators and about age-inappropriate material which we don’t want our children to see. What many parents don’t realize is that there are other dangers out there, and some of them come from other kids.
Online precautions for parents should always include some degree of monitoring children’s internet use. If you want to allow them privacy in the use of things like email (bearing in mind that if you don’t, they may start being more secretive and pursuing any potentially problematic communications through computers outside the home), you can do things like checking the computer’s image cache to see what pictures they’ve been looking at. But the most useful thing is to talk to your child.
Try to do so with an open mind – if they see you tense up when a particular subject is raised, they’ll be reluctant to talk about that again. Try to get them to tell you about their favorite things and what they think is cool.
Online fads are often harmless. They may involve activities like collecting or crafts which you remember from your own childhood. But they can also include things like jumping off cliffs, doing ‘dares’ on railroad tracks or performing dangerous bike stunts.
Online precautions for parents who would rather their children didn’t get involved in things like this can include trying to get ahead of the trend by keeping up with what kids think is cool.
Viewing popular image and video sites and looking for the most popular files there can help you provide you with due warning about what your kids might be wanting to try. Then you’ll have the opportunity to get in there and talk about the dangers – and perhaps take away temptation – before it happens.