Once upon a time, parents could sleep a little easier if they knew that their kids were staying home at night. But times have changed, and the increase and easier availability of technology has been a big part of those changes. And whereas, even only ten years ago most households had one computer that belonged to the family as a whole, now many children have their own laptop with constant access to the internet right in their bedrooms. It is up to you to monitor the ways your child uses the internet. Here are the reasons why:
Cyber bullying. This is the new frontier that many school districts are facing, not because bullying is anything new, but because children (and actual adults) have discovered that the internet – and social networking sites such as Facebook and Myspace – allow them to practice bullying in ways and places that stretch beyond the schoolroom or playground. And your child’s psychological state after being bullied is much the same as it would be if the bullying is performed at school … except that, now, not even their home is a safe place. Have a heart to heart talk with your child to make sure that they aren’t being bullied, and that they aren’t doing the bullying either.
Identity theft. If your family does use one primary computer, the websites your child visits may leave you open to identity theft. Viruses and Trojan horses can replicate the keystrokes typed on your computer and grant identity thieves access to your private files, including your online banking and any other passwords.
Website history. Do you really want your children to learn about sex from pornographic websites? Curiosity about human sexuality is a natural part of any child’s development, but it is your responsibility as a parent to teach them in a healthy way that won’t happen if a child is downloading or watching internet pornography. You don’t want them to feel ashamed, but you still need to have a frank discussion about appropriate websites to visit. You might also point out that computer viruses are easily transmitted through contact with these kinds of sites.
Chat rooms. It is easier than ever for children to meet an internet predator while enjoying simple conversations in a chat room. The anonymity of many chatters allows them to create fictional profiles that can mislead your child into thinking they are communicating with a boy or girl around their age. Keep your child safe from sexual predators by keep a close eye on the kinds of chat rooms they frequent and by pointing out to them the do’s and don’ts of chatting.
Stalking. With the proliferation of social networking sites, it is easier than ever for cyber stalking to occur, which leaves your child open to the predation of someone who they may or may not know who sends them unwanted emails, texts, or may even drive by your house.
Be conscious of your child’s activities by letting them know that you are concerned about their safety, and that includes their lives online.