According to Child Trends, about 60% of children aged 3-17 years use the internet. This figure is higher compared to the 11% that used the internet 20 years ago. All parents, teachers, and caregivers are required to maintain high internet safety for kids.
Kids are vulnerable to the dangers associated with internet use. There are lots of malicious activities that can affect kids in one way or another. Without proper guidance and control, kids can be manipulated to engage in dangerous activities.
Web influence is likely to damage children if unchecked. Your kids can be web specialists but not security experts. The primary responsibilities lie in the hands of parents.
Here's why we need to be protecting our kids from the internet.
1. Kids Are Vulnerable to Damaging Content
The main reason why we need to protect kids is that they are at risk of exposure to damaging content. There is a lot of risky content on the internet that ruins the minds and actions of children. The society should take up arms to protect kids at whatever cost.
Damaging content includes pornography, drugs, nudity, crimes, weapons, and violence among others. If kids get exposed in any of these types of content, they are likely to go out of their way.
Peer pressure from online pals encourages kids to engage in harmful actions on the internet. A large number of children who participate in crimes or other illegal activities ought to have learned them from the internet.
2. Children Might Suffer Humiliation
Kids can suffer from humiliation from internet bullying. Bullying mostly happens in social media. For kids who aren’t psychologically mature, internet humiliation can be destructive.
Kids can suffer humiliation from posting on social media. Negative trolls, comments, and dislikes can be embarrassing. It’s the responsibility of society to protect children from such embarrassment.
A study by DoSomething.org revealed that about 43% of children using the internet had been cyberbullied. 90% of teens have seen acts of cyberbullying and ignored them.
3. Kids Can Get Hurt
Children can suffer from a physical injury due to internet use. While using social media platforms, kids can meet malicious strangers who can hurt them. A good number of people that you meet online have ill intentions.
Kids can disclose their locations to strangers. Disclosure of location, online dating, and hook-ups are some of the ways how kids can get hurt. Kids can be victims of rape, assault, intoxication, etc.
According to the US Department of justice, approximately 1.8 million children have been victims of sexual assault. Unsafe internet use plays a huge role in this. Internet safety for kids should be given a lot of emphases.
Many kids are nowadays addicted to internet use. Although the internet has many benefits, the risk of addiction is real. Kids should be protected from any possible addiction at a young age.
Addicted kids tend to inattentive in school, dull, and uncreative. Since we all the best from them, we should ensure that kids don’t suffer online addiction. Try to encourage them to form new habits, such as reading, exercising, and playing with friends.
5. Kids Can Lose Opportunities
The digital world has very many shortcomings, especially to kids. In the past, a lot of kids lost out on opportunities due to lousy internet usage. Hiring manager, sponsors, admission personnel and even teachers have at one been turned off by the activities of children.
Social media posts, explicit content, and other uncouth activities can ruin kids’ life-changing opportunities. We all should gang up and ensure that kids don’t lose it up because of social media.
6. Victim of Viral Challenges
What would you do if your kids fell to dangerous viral challenges? A good example is the recent Tide Pod, where kids were lured into consuming a detergent. There are many viral challenges out there, some of which are fatal.
Kids have to be protected from falling into such traps. The Fear of Missing out (FOMO) is what drives many kids especially teenager into participating in dangerous online challenges.
7. Health Issues
Spending too much time on the internet can lead to the following;
• Lack of sleep
• Eye damage
• Tiredness, Obesity
• Blurry vision
Children who spend most of their time on the internet will complain about the above problems at some point.
How to Ensure Internet Safety for Kids
It’s clear that it’s essential to protect children, but how do we go about it? Below are some of the best ways to safeguard the safety of kids.
Talk to Kids About the Dangers of Internet Use
Engaging your kids in talks should the first on the list. We need to create awareness and reveal to them what is right and what is not. Talk to kids and explain the best online practices that will keep them safe and secures.
If you kids engage in online activities, educate them on what to do and what not to do. Teach them how to approach certain situations. Also, encourage them to consult you when something is wrong or when dealing with strangers.
Creating a friendlier environment will be a win-win situation for both of you.
Use Parental Controls
Almost all browsers have potential controls that you can use to filter what kids can access. Enable security safeguards that will filter violence, nudity, language, sex, etc. Be sure to learn more about online privacy and advise them on the type of content they should avoid.
Besides, install sophisticated content filtering software in their devices that will wipe out any harmful content. Pop-up blockers and remote controls will help in filtering malicious intruders. This is an effective way of ensuring that kids can’t access corrupt content.
Regulate the Amount of Time Kids Spend Online
As a parent, guardian, or caregiver, you can limit the amount of time that kids spend on the net. You can do this by switching off the Wi-Fi or changing the passwords, etc. Let the kids spend more time on chores and assignments and have the least time possible on their devices.
The Bottom Line
As evident in this article, it’s possible to provide the best online platform for kids. It requires more than just spying their actions. Adopt the safest means in such a way that the kids will always safe and secure.
Internet safety for kids should be at the heart of everyone. Although parents bear huge responsibilities, everyone else has a role to play.
Instead of allowing your kids to spend all their time online, you can teach them the tips on how to improve their intelligence.