Children can benefit greatly from the Internet. They can use it to communicate with teachers and other students, do research for school reports, and play interactive games.
However, there are risks associated with using the internet, such as improper material, and cyberbullying. By using applications and websites where children can engage with each other, predators are able to steal the identity of a child seeking new friends and thereby have access to the child’s personal data.
Parents need to be mindful of what their children read and hear online, as well as the people they encounter and the information they disclose about themselves. It involves learning to observe what is happening around us.
What is in place to protect children?
The Children’s Internet Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a US rule but applies around the world, provides online safety for children under the age of 13. It is intended to prevent anyone from accessing a child’s personal information without first gaining permission from the parent.
Before gathering or utilising a child’s personal information, such as a name, address or phone number, websites are required under COPPA to notify parents of their privacy practises and obtain their permission. The rule also forbids a website from requesting more personal information from a young person than is required to participate in a game or use a website.
With the aid of online technology, parents can limit their children’s access to adult content and protect them from online predators.
Parental controls are offered by numerous Internet service providers. Software that assists in blocking access to websites and limits the transmission of personal information online is also available.
What are the difficulties in monitoring your child’s online activity and what can be done?
Monitoring children’s online activity becomes a little more challenging as they become older, the use of smartphones in day-to-day life can make this challenging because of the portability of the phones.
Some parents also aren’t keen on prying into their children’s personal life when they get to a certain age, making the conversation about online safety and sensitive and sometimes difficult subject.
The negative effect on young people
According to a new study by Common Sense Media, half of teens agree to be addicted to their smartphones and other mobile devices and 60% of parents agreed with this statement. With the rise in use of social media, online bullying among young people has risen and is said that young people who utilize social media more than 3 hours per day are at an increased chance of mental wellbeing issues and other negative side impacts such as self-esteem issues.
What you can do to help your child stay safe online?
• Have an open conversation with your kids about safe internet usage and the dangers that come with using the internet.
• Explain why online safety is important.
• Tell them that the freedom to explore the Internet comes with responsibility and ensure that they are educated about safe searching.
• There is no perfect search filter tool, especially for software applications and so it’s still the parent’s job to monitor the child’s activities online.
• No matter how good your computer’s security software is or how secure it is, ensure that there is no personal information available that can be taken or given to anyone by mistake.
• Take your child seriously when they report an unpleasant online exchange.
Who is helping to keep children safe online?
There are plenty of organisations and charities around that support and educate children on safe online practices, but there are also organisations that ensure those that protect children online. We have already mentioned COPPA, but there are also agencies that ensure that those who abuse children online or bully people online such as CEOP and the Internet Watch Foundation.
These organisations make it their purpose to ensure that no child is abused, taken advantage of or bullied online.
With the right education, safety procedures and help from organisations, the internet can be a safe place for children to keep in touch with their friends and use it for their education.
If you would like advice or would like to know more about keeping your child safe online, please visit the NSPCC‘s website.