Do you know what your children are doing online? Many parents relax about the internet and don’t bother to monitor it on an ongoing basis because they’ve already taken precautions to limit their kids’ online activities.
They may have installed software which limits which sites can be visited, or they may have signed up with a child-safe ISP. Bit do they know what their kids do when they’re not at home?
You may not think you need to worry about your child accessing the internet elsewhere because they won’t have the chance to do it unsupervised, nor for very long. Wrong. Many schools now have a computer available to every child and it’s impossible even for the most attentive teacher to monitor what’s going on on all of them at once.
Most schools rely on software to protect child computer users, but this is often out of date and vulnerable to the concerted efforts of a large number of child hackers. Outside school, there are other opportunities.
Children may be able to get unsupervised computer access in libraries, or they may choose to use cybercafÃ©s, which are often popular spots for kids eating lunch together.
With the advent of wireless computing, an increasing number of children now access the internet via laptops. Even if these are banned at school, they can be carried discreetly in school bags and used just outside the grounds.
Internet-ready mobile phones are another option, and children will share access to these with those who don’t own their own. Then there is always the option of visiting a friend’s house and using the computer there, where parents may not be as vigilant as you are.
Ultimately, all of the restrictions we impose on children have to be built on trust. Restrictive software may help to limit your kids’ online activities, but it won’t stop them if they’re really determined. You can only do that by getting involved in the rest of their lives.