Because of smartphones, social networks, tablets and video game systems online, today’s families are more connected than ever. Added to this are schools, libraries, and other organizations to increase the deployment of programs devoted to extolling the virtues of technology.
But despite the rapid advent of new technologies, we make the mistake of doing too little to prepare children and adults for life in the wireless world.
Over 91% of children play video games, but it is the segment between 2 and 5 years that registered higher growth since 2009, according to market research agency NPD Group. Very close to them are girls and adolescents, thanks to the growth of smartphones and tablets.
Security vendor McAfee indicates that online music sites, movies, and online downloads are an important source of potential hazards to children.
Even more troubling, his rival Norton says that children spend more than 1.6 hours a day online and 62% of them already had a negative experience, but only 45% of parents are aware.
There is a long list of facts and figures frightening, not to mention the violation of your privacy by showing the viral video Take This Lollipop, an interactive horror film on your Facebook profile.
Experts try to define the rules of etiquette and proper behavior in a world always connected.
For parents who hope to return some balance and rationality to the lifestyle of the XXI, increasingly digital age, here are some simple rules that can help.
Repeat the following sentence many times as necessary until fully understand: The task is not just for kids.
Dozens of new services, applications, games, gadgets and online sites are launched every week, all with a lot of options to connect, communicate and interact or share information. Other platforms and existing devices are improved and are continuously updated.
Given the ignorance of all this, adults often prohibit, block or ignore the new developments. But it works best if parents and children learn about these products, and they will be better prepared to make assertive decisions.
Pay attention to high-tech topics that interest the child. Informed dialogue, constructive and genuine curiosity about the technology. Through this, parents can show their children their interest in important activities for them.
Take advantage of the parental Controls
A variety of useful resources is available to put parental controls on kids’ devices and to monitor the use of the network on all platforms, such as FamilyTime, Net Nanny, and Norton etc. Using these digital tools, you can:
- Keep an eye on their kids’ browsing history along with the date and time for each URL.
- View their bookmarks and favorites.
- Monitor call logs and check the caller details and view their call timing along with date stamps.
- Mirror contacts and view every contact saved in their kid’s phone along with the listed details.
- Watchlist contacts and get instant alerts on the connection.
- Check all of their installed apps along with app version and date of installation.
- Block questionable apps & games.
- Check location-history and stay in the know where their kids were the whole day.
- Add specific places to Places list and get alerts when their kids enter or exit those places.
- Receive SOS alerts in case of emergency from the kids with location details.
- Receive PickMeUp alerts from your children and stay informed when it’s time to pick them up.
- Schedule auto screen locks for certain time durations such as study hours, meal breaks and sleep time etc.
- Put screen locks at any time they don’t want kids to use their smartphones.
Parents can, and should, be a shield against negative influences and dangerous liaisons. Instead of trying to build walls against the outside world, which can easily jump (or perhaps break under pressure), you should create a map with more positive routes through knowledge and informed suggestions.
Establish and comply with the limits
Keep screens outside the rooms of children. Computers, video game systems, and other connected devices must be in common areas. For portable devices such as smartphones and tablets, use the parental monitoring software so you can keep yourself abreast of their online activities and can put your controls whenever needed. With this, you can monitor the playing time and prevent children from entering the internet secretly to play World of Warcraft at three o’clock in the morning on weekdays. In addition to this, establish and negotiate the house rules such as when and how you can kids use the devices and hours and moments when the use of the devices is prohibited, such as dinner or when the family lives. For you can take help of screen limit apps that allow you to put auto-screen locks for specific time intervals while empowering parents to lock their kid’s’ devices remotely!
To determine the screen time, consider the instructions of The American Academy of Pediatrics that recommends a maximum of two hours per day on screens in general, including televisions, tablets, phones and other devices.
Some parents recommend that the time spent in front of the high-tech toys should be established as a reward- a privilege that must be earned for good behavior or help in the tasks of the house and not be an inalienable right.
Keep separate the real world and the virtual
The true identity and the Internet rarely go hand in hand. In Google+, Twitter or Facebook and virtual worlds’ online multiplayer as Free Realms, everyone plays a character. So tell your kid that no matter how authentic look their virtual friends may have; the same rules of conduct and etiquette that apply to the interaction in any public space should also be respected in the areas online.
Teach the basic rules
Training is the key factor to saving kids hence, teach them some basic rules of being in the cyber world. You can start off by saying:
- Never post personal information online such as name, address, city where you live, birthday, school or telephone number etc.
- Never upload photos or yourself or videos to the Internet or an online service where people do not know personally can see them.
- Never share reports online where you are currently, where will you go soon, or when and where you’re going on vacation.
- Do not download pictures, do not click on attachments in emails or visit links pages that you did not request.
- Do not open skeptical emails containing suspicious friends, securities or arriving unannounced to yourself.
- Take all reservation and show yourself skeptical that what is said online is the truth. Avoid face to face meetings with people you met online without supervision from someone, and even then you must be careful with possible contacts in the real world.
- Children who are victims of cyberbullying and harassment are at special risk. You are advised not to respond or ridiculing the aggressors, and instead of deleting them, save the disturbing evidence of all communications to the benefit of a possible legal action.
Parents are responsible for monitoring the warning signs of both cyberbullying and internet addiction.
If your child shows signs of any problems, do not hesitate; monitor their behavior patterns, keep detailed notes and do not hesitate to seek the help of qualified professionals when needed.
Health professionals, treatment centers, and police departments, are actively working to address these concerns and are willing to help if problems arise.
Use the 6 above-given steps and improve the safety of your kids on the internet now!
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