Young Children Online
Although pornographic images are not appropriate and very unsuitable for children, they don’t hurt our children. People hurt our children. We try our very best to protect children. We teach them to avoid potentially harmful and dangerous situations by teaching them to properly and safely cross streets, use utensils properly and avoid strangers. As your child ages and matures it is natural for them to want more independence and trust from you. There is no law or rule that says a parent must give a ten year old “these” privileges and not “these”. Teenagers typically need more one-on-one direction and distant supervision. Young children typically need constant reminding of Do’s and Don’ts because they are not yet able to make independent logical and informed decisions.
Here are four basic guidelines for parents of younger children while they are online:
1.Keep the computer used by children in the room that has the most traffic and with the monitor facing the busiest part of the room. This helps avoid a situation, for example, where the child or young adult can be tempted to comply with an online request to “keep the friendship a secret” or “don’t tell your parents” from an unscrupulous internet user (perhaps a predator) most likely pretending to be someone your child’s age or pretending to be an adult who can help where parents and friends seemingly can not, seem not-to, or don’t show enough interest at the exact moment attention is needed.
2.Don’t post pictures of your children at websites, forums, or in text messaging that are available to the public for anyone to see. Use internet tools that require a password and your permission to access. Find out if website policies allow search engines to add your private webpages to their directory of information. Be sure your underage child doesn’t post pictures to any website, including social networking communities such as Facebook or Twitter without your permission. 3. Don’t allow your child to arrange or agree to a face-to-face meeting or phone conversation with someone they met online without your physical presence at both the acceptance and the meeting. Treat this as you would your child’s new friend whom you haven’t met and who has asked your child to go to a concert out of town. 4. When your children are young, you should be sure they:
- share the family email address
- choose a gender-neutral screen name that doesn’t contain sexually suggestive words or reveal personal information such as age, race, religion or prominent characteristic.
Teaching personal safety to children now includes an added responsibility of the internet. Children learn by imitation and words. Practice internet safety as diligently as you practice personal everyday safety. Teach your children not only with your words but also with your actions. Make internet safety a family activity. Ask older children to accept more responsibility by taking turns watching younger children while they are online. Maintaining the personal safety of your family also helps maintain the safety of your community, town, state and country. There is no replacement for parental concern and supervision in any area of your child’s life – including the internet. Keep in mind that the internet and computers are tools, just as useful and dangerous if not used correctly as a pencil, fork, or hammer. Like any tool, the internet requires adult supervision according to your family values, your child’s age, and level of maturity. I personally do not know a parent who would give the car keys to their eight year old and tell them to do the grocery shopping. Computer and internet use (how much, when, for how long, and where the child can go) is best decided by the parent. Websites based in the USA that encourage children to look around or are specifically for children. Here are some tools you can leverage when evaluating content.
- TRUSTe’s Privacy Seal https://www.truste.org/businesses/childrens_privacy_seal.php or one or more logos for content rating.
- The three major American content rating websites for the internet are:
- Nielsen Ratings https://www.nielsenmedia.com
- Parents Television Council https://www.parentstv.org
- Family TV https://www.familytv.com to find family friendly movies,
- Film Rating https://www.filmratings.com for movies,
- What They Play https://www.whattheyplay.com for video games
- Family Safe Media https://www.familysafemedia.com,
- Parental Media Guide https://www.parentalguide.org
- Entertainment Software Rating Board https://www.esrb.org for multi-player online games, computer and video games, bulletin boards and chatrooms.
The companies that register their software or websites are conscientious about their advertisements being truthful and accurate. Check the privacy policies of the websites your child is required to register with. Find out if the website shares information with first parties like affiliate companies or with third parties such as advertisers. Such information given to a database can possible generate spam or spyware. Find out how your child’s information is used and what kind of information is collected from your child. If a website in your opinion does not have similar values or you think has too much information about your child, and is located in the United States with children as the majority of website visitors, you can ask the website to delete your child’s information. If the website meets these requirements and does not honor your request, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Also, if you have a complaint about violent or inappropriate entertainment being marketed to children, you can file a complaint with the American Federal Trade Commission (https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/). A list of the rating abbreviations used for movies, music and video games can be found at https://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/ratings/rateguide.shtm Try to use an extension between your computer and phone line or broadband modem so you can easily disconnect and connect the connection without harming from constant use the sensitive connectors of your computer and modem. This also helps stop younger children from connecting if they are astute enough to know the logon username and password or how to get to the logon screen with a computer that remembers passwords. Teach children about cleanliness with a computer and peripherals as you do with everyday activities. The keyboard should be wiped with a disinfectant (damp, not wet) at least once a week especially when someone in the family has a cold just as you wipe the telephone, doorknobs, and counters. Be sure not to get liquid or sticky stuff between the keys. Remind children not to put fingers or objects into openings except what they are designed for and only with your supervision. Use clean hands when using the computer and media. Don’t touch the computer monitor except when cleaning with a damp (not wet) lint-free cloth.
This post is part of the series: Protecting Children Online
Article one in a six-part series for parents and minors discussing the importance and mechanics of kid nad teen safety online.