North Texas Daily

Parents need to actively teach children internet safety

Parents need to actively teach children internet safety

Parents need to actively teach children internet safety
November 19
14:00 2021

Today most children can access the internet and social media through their tablets, phones and computers. They quickly pick up on how to use and navigate their electronic systems and join their friends on social media. However, they are usually not taught how to behave and interact with the vast new world that they have at their fingertips. 

Parents tend to hand their kids these devices in order to keep them entertained during the day, but their responsibility does not end there.

In the same way that a parent monitors where and who their children talk to, they need to monitor what they do and how long they are online.

Shoving a tablet into a child’s hands is like sitting them in front of the TV, but it now risks them encountering harmful content. This should not be encouraged among parents who want to shut their kids up for a while. They need to deal with their child and realize just how harmful this habit is.

Social media outlets like Instagram can have a negative impact on a child’s self-image and worth. Influencers promoting diet culture and impossible beauty standards can cause them to develop low self-esteem or even eating disorders. Parents need to make sure their child knows the difference between online and reality.

Parents owe it to their children to teach them how to be safe on the internet and to be wary of strangers online. Remind them to not give out personal information or meet up with strangers they find online, as well as to behave virtually like they would in real life.

Teaching children from a young age that their internet anonymity does not give them the right to disrespect others would reduce bullying. Instilling good internet habits in children will help them make good choices online and avoid dangerous encounters. 

The internet is not a place for a child to navigate on their own. Their parents need to monitor the content their children consume. Children today may be more tech-savvy than their parents, but they lack the skills to understand the dangers of what they could encounter online.

Parents will also benefit from introducing media literacy to their children if they are on the internet a lot. Media literacy, like reading literacy, means that someone can properly understand the message the media is conveying. This will allow children to decipher whether or not what they see online is credible and if they are being deceived or influenced. 

Train them to question the media they encounter online: who the author is, who could be their audience and whose point of view is the information coming from. Children can be easy targets for the deception that is found online but if they are taught to be skeptical from a young age, they can spot it quickly.

Although some apps have parental controls and filters for offensive content, they should not solely depend on them. Parents should familiarize themselves with the technology their child uses so that they can teach them how to make smarter decisions online. 

Parents should not use devices as babysitters, especially when it could potentially expose their children to dangerous content. Blocking websites might prove fruitless if their child is more tech-savvy and can work around it. There should be no argument against parents looking out for their kids navigating the internet. It’s their job to monitor the content their children consume.

Social media is not a TV channel that only shows what is appropriate for a child to consume. It is a forum where anonymous users can post whatever content they want with no regard for who might see it. Children need to be protected from offensive content that could disturb them, but that responsibility falls on the parent and no one else. 

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Arelys Morales Conty

Arelys Morales Conty

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