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What is your child looking at online?

what is your child looking at online
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What is your child looking at online? Are you aware what they’re up to while they’re glued to their laptop or smart phone?

After hearing horror stories of children being bullied online, forming eating disorders from pro-anorexia websites or being groomed by adults posing at children with the intention of meeting up for sex, most parents are aware that the internet can be a pretty dangerous place for kids to play. Although kids may be more aware of danger nowadays, as parents we should know what they are doing online and ensure they are safe at all times.

Social media

Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter are part of their lives accounting for 79.5% of teenage internet usage. It’s the main tool for keeping in touch with friends and arranging events and with most teens now owning smartphones with the internet at their fingertips its even more imperative they are aware of possible dangers. These sites can often createwhat is your child looking at online popularity contests seeing who can get the most ‘friends’ or ‘followers’ and this often leads to kids accepting invites from strangers, some of whom are adults posing as teenagers. While many will spot these ‘trolls’ and delete them, kids who may not form friendships easily or that are flattered by the attention, might respond to them. Starting off with a few innocent messages and in some cases leading up to arrangements being made to meet up!

Talk about the dangers

Talk to your teen about the dangers of accepting requests from anyone they don’t know, even if they look like another child. Make sure your teen has their public profiles as private so strangers can’t browse through pictures or look up personal details. Never allow them to give out any personal details such as phone numbers, address, say when they might be home alone or out and about and never let them share passwords, even with friends.

Some predators can be very convincing and make your teen feel like they know them so well they are safe, but in some cases, this has lead to fatal consequences. If they feel they have genuinely met a new friend through a social networking site and want to meet up, always arrange to meet in a public place and always go with them.

Get clued up

A great way of checking how internet savvy they are is by asking them to help you set up a Facebook or twitter account. Ask how to make pictures or posts private, how to block people, how to spot for fakers and use it as a springboard for what is your child looking at onlinechecking how they manage their profiles. Explain than about the consequences of posting things publicly, once it’s been typed there will always be some form of record of it and you can’t always judge tone; what might have been a joke may be seen as offensive and have serious consequences. Check what language they’re using and pictures they might be posting and that social networking sites are often used by employers to ‘research’ potential employees – it could have a damaging impact on their future.

Censorship

The internet isn’t censored in any way so while your Sky Plus box might automatically request a pin number to view age certificate films, the internet doesn’t always. Make sure you use block filtering and monitoring at home to stop kids dropping onto inappropriate sites such as porn, whether accidently or not! 44.5% of kids access the internet via smartphone, so speak to the provider and tell them that the phone is for a child and to block out adult content sites.

The internet is a fantastic learning tool and will always be part of our lives; although there are obvious dangers we need to make our kids aware of, they are a probably more clued up than we think!

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About Rebecca Robinson

About Rebecca Robinson

After spending the last 8 years juggling life as a mum of two, wife and working full time as a Project Manager for a global telecommunications company, Rebecca Robinson made the decision to follow her love of writing and took the plunge; turning her passion into a full time career. Since becoming a full time writer, Rebecca has worked with various media and copy-writing companies and with the ability to make any topic relevant and interesting to the reader, now contributes to The Working Parent on articles ranging from credit cards to teenage relationships. Ever the optimist, Rebecca's dreams for the future include a house in the country filled with children, dogs and horses in the field!

Website: Rebecca Robinson

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