Children and the Internet – Safeguarding on Social Networking Sites

Keeping up with and supervising children’s online activity can seem like a daunting task, especially when they are surrounded by computers and smartphones and other gadgets allowing access to the internet and communication online. Safeguarding is a repeating topic and a constant debate when you are a parent with young children. The government, the school and newspapers all seem to do their best in enlightening us within a platform in constant change and development.
Online Safety for children on Social Network Sites
© Little Scandinavian
Most parents seem to be concerned about the unlimited access to the world combined with lack of supervision and guidance. But at the same time, what parent would want to deprive their child of a social life?
Free access to gadgets and the Internet combined with peer pressure and heavy marketing campaigns makes it a challenge to stop your child from exploring inappropriate sites and join Social Networking sites without fully understanding the implications.
According to Get Safe Online online the risks include

• Inappropriate contact: from people who may wish to abuse, exploit or bully them.
• Inappropriate conduct: own and others online behaviour, such as making personal information public.
• They may also become either targets or perpetrators of cyberbullying.
• Inappropriate content: being able to access sexually explicit, racist, violent, extremist or other harmful material.
• Commercialism: directing aggressive advertising and marketing material at children.

If we do not know where they’ll go or who they’ll see, would we then allow them to go out on their own? Same applies to the Internet!
It’s all about understanding the risks yourself and plan ahead before allowing children access. Do your research in advance, make an effort to understand. And when you decide to allow your child on, do it together, knowing that you fully understand the site and its terms & conditions. And make a decision on how much privacy you would like your child to have. Would you like to know the passwords and regularly check the child’s online presence, or not? In comparisons, if your child met a stranger on the street, would you like to know what they talked about?
With tablets on the market available for 1 year olds (chewable even) it’s tempting to ensure your child is up to date on technology. But bare in mind that software these days are so user friendly that you’ll easily handle it by acting on your instincts, is there really a need to start them off early? Technology is here to stay, childhood is not.

I’ll be the first to admit that smartphones, tablets and computers have found their way into our home. But so far there’s no internet other than in the family living room, we have access to all passwords -and there are certainly no Facebook account for our tween before she’s old enough. And when she is we’ll go through it and sign up with her, ensuring safe use. In this household there will only be privacy with her diary, not on Facebook.

If you have any advice or experience -please share! As with young children we are still learning as we go!

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