Tips for Parenting in the Internet Age

Google is part of my life on a daily basis, I instinctively “Google” everything that I am looking for. We certainly need tips for parenting in the internet age.

What I find even more interesting is when my daughter asks me to Google something or the other. I cannot get away with saying I do not know when she asks me a question…she will simply retort with “why don’t you google it”. The other day she asked me if I knew about Maldives, then she decides to show me so she gets on the computer and googles “Maldives” to show me their underwater hotels.

Child screen timeThis comfort with google and the internet means that as parents we have to be ready to parent in the internet age. If you are like me and thought that internet protection did not have to start till the teenage years; welcome to reality! We need to think about protecting our children on the internet much earlier than we might want to.

Children nowadays seem to be born technology and Internet enabled. There is a way they navigate touch screen that seems almost like a naturally born skill set. Watch a toddler who cannot walk watch a video on YouTube or watch “I am a Gummy Bear” a millionth time.

[Read: How To Parent in the CyberWorld]

Anyway the point of all this is that one must incorporate safety tools and protection as early as your child can navigate your smartphone, Ipad or laptop. You don’t want your child innocently going on the internet to search for Maldives and they end up seeing half naked people.

There are several safety tools that offer you parental control for the internet. These tools enable you to set which sites can be accessed and even automatically block the internet during certain hours. I recall one mum tell me that her primary school aged son was watching porn right from his ipad with her in the same room. This was the rude shock she needed to install internet protection on her ipad and other devices.

Some ways to help navigate include

1)   Communication – it is important to point out the positive and the negative of the use of the internet. This needs to be appropriate to the age of the child. You should also communicate your internet usage rules e.g. children should not have access to the internet without adult supervision.

2)   Set Consequences – Explain to children that access to the internet is a privilege and not a right. Show practical examples, if you are on the internet and something pops up that is inappropriate discuss it with your children. Let them what will happen if you see them viewing inappropriate content – then stick to it.

3)   Protection Software – There are several tools that you can download to protect what sites are accessible. I believe there is a place for trust but there is no need to expose children to temptations that can be avoided.  While searching for an internet program to use to protect access on the internet I came across K9 Web Protection. It allows you to set the times you want to block internet access. Parents can choose which categories you want to block access to (for instance you can blog the word nudity). Lastly. it also has a cool feature that lets you choose a “barking” sound every time a banned category or word comes up.

“K9 Web Blocker is a good, free program for those who are concerned solely with Web surfing, but the lack of a chatware filter leaves some holes for predation” (Source: CNET)

Of course constant monitoring and communication is required to ensure that your children stay safe on the internet.

Photo source: blackenterprise

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