In this digital age, internet access is available to almost everyone in almost every kind of environment, both at home and in schools.
One of the biggest advantages of easy internet access is the wide range of information available from all over the world such as books, magazines, journal publications, improving children’s learning potential and offering them the most recent information, tailored to their needs.
The internet also allows anyone to meet people from all over the world, improving one’s social skills; but none of these advantages are without risk, especially for young children.
The risk of coming across inappropriate content or being absorbed by the virtual world must be acknowledged in order to prevent any possible negative outcomes.
Internetmatters.org suggests that firstly, boundaries need to be agreed and children must know clearly what they are allowed to do, what kind of information can be shared and what amount of time spent on the Internet is suitable, depending on their age.
Secondly, in order to find out what children are doing online, it’s best to talk to them about their online preferences and explore this with them from time to time.
Putting yourself in control is another important aspect: installing parental controls on home broadband and the devices children might be using, and protecting accounts with passwords prevent young from accessing inappropriate sites. Adults can also encourage children to use devices in communal areas where they can be supervised and share their experiences.
Children also need to be taught how to socially behave online, including being good online friends without saying nasty things, not sharing personal information online, and avoiding strangers.
Another relevant aspect is to consider what sites they can use in order to download music and games legally, checking attachments and pop-ups for viruses, and what kind of different online platforms can be used to better judge the quality and reliability of online resources.This includes monitoring how easy it is for children to purchase games, music, and extensions without your knowledge or approval as children can be vulnerable to sellers exploiting them for sales.
Lastly, it is crucial to have a friendly conversation with children, assuring them that their parents, carers, or other trusted adults are perfect people to talk to in case they’ve seen or experienced something upsetting online. Making them aware of online grooming is the key to keeping children away from online predators.
Help and advice can be obtained from:
Other useful online resources include: