Let’s face it, our kids are using the internet whether or not we want them to. A decade ago, parents and teachers tried to restrict internet access, believing they’d succeed. However, internet availability is too widespread that our kids are extremely tech-savvy now. It’s best to meet them halfway – give in gracefully, but with a mutually acceptable set of rules and modes to help them use the internet positively.
Here’s how you can do this:
1. Cover the Basics
It is good to restrict all net access until kids reach at 8 or 9 because it’s widely considered as the ideal age to allow kids basic internet access. Don’t let your kid learn about it through someone else. Be the one to introduce. Thus, your kid will turn to you with his net-related troubles.
Make surfing the internet as fun thing you do together. Don’t make the net seem bigger than it is. Remember, more than 53% of population in India is addicted to the internet and you don’t want your child to be one of them.
Find websites you can surf together, like gaming sites. This lays open the gate for your kid to share positive and negative net experiences with you.
2. Set Internet Usage Rules
No personal information should be shared on the net. Explain how bad people use it to stalk, harm and ruin people’s lives. Sometimes it’s necessary to share information but they should do it only in your presence.
Agree on the kinds of sites they access and the kinds they’re not allowed to. Explain why; modern-day kids are smart and simply laying down the law doesn’t help anymore.
Your kids need to realize that once content has been uploaded, they may have little control over its use. It is important to know how content can be misused. Have specific rules about content uploading, viewing and viewer access.
3. Impact the Right Attitude
Ask your kids if they’d like to face mean tricks, bad language and cheating. Let them develop the right attitude before they use the internet to game, chat & email.
Remember your kids will be influenced by other kids in school. Later on, bad judgments, pranks and mistakes will occur. Prepare in advance by teaching them to respect others and command respect in turn.
4. Monitor and Mentor
While trust is necessary, don’t forget to monitor and mentor online interactions. Log in to their social media accounts daily & observe what’s happening. Don’t do your spying in secret; let your kids know that you’re letting them use certain sites based on your right to monitor.
Investigate how to apply privacy and security settings on social sites along with your kid. Learn how to use the ‘Safety Centre,’ ‘Block’ and ‘Reporting’ features. Numerous apps are available to keep a watch on internet usage.
If you find your kids accessing stuff they shouldn’t, report it to the appropriate authorities and let your kids know that you’ve done so.
5. Set Behavior Rules and Limits
Always share with your children any news item on internet-based harassment. Discuss how people aren’t what they seem to be online and that reality is far different from the online world. Let your kids understand that they should never meet any “online friends” in person.
Write an ‘Approval List’ and get your kids to agree on the items mentioned. The list should contain all scenarios where your kids require your permission to proceed such as making online friends, sharing information, uploading content etc.
6. Ensure Responsible Conduct
Kids use the internet for scholarly research these days. However, they should know that just because information is available online, it doesn’t mean it is accurate. Teach them how to verify the information by comparing it to alternative sources. Let them know that there are no easy routes in life.
Sometimes kids can come across adult content online even if you’ve blocked all such sites. Let them know beforehand that such content exists and explain its purpose. Don’t avoid the topic; this only makes the child more curious.
Keep an eye on what your kids browse. If you find they’ve been browsing porn or violence, don’t criticize or yell as this will drive them to do it in secret. Children are curious, especially about off-limits material; plus, they listen to their peers. Use this sort of situation to discuss the content with them. Be clear on what sort of behavior you expect, but remain realistic in your expectations.
Put yourself in your child’s shoes and try to see how he/she perceives the internet. If your child sees it as a learning tool, maintain the status quo. If your child seems excessively curious or sly, be on the watch. Always remember that when it comes to the internet, the positive aspects far outweigh the negatives.
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