Gone are the days when the idea of “fun” was associated with an outdoor adventure. Until a few years ago, children used to play all sorts of games like Kick the Can, Capture the Flag or Hopscotch with their friends in the great outdoors. Their laughter rang throughout the afternoon, bringing the neighborhood to life. Today’s younger generation is the exact opposite. They are hooked on their touchscreen devices, gaming consoles, and high-definition TVs. Their concept of “fun” starts with creating digital avatars and ends up with exploring the passageways of the World Wide Web. This cultural evolution has been triggered by the invention and popularity of a technological wonder, known as the internet.
The Internet & Its Growing Usage
The internet may have originated as a modest means of communication, but it has become so much more than that in the present era. Nowadays, internet technology facilitates information accessibility, entertainment delivery, healthcare counseling, smart home management, online shopping, remote working, multiplayer online gaming, and virtual education for an individual user. Seeing its potential uses and far-reaching applications, internet service providers have significantly reduced the rates of this essential service, so that every household in the US can subscribe to an internet connection, according to their means. For instance, Cox internet prices are affordable enough for every consumer class in America, whether high-end or low-income. This marks the scalability of the internet, as we know it.
Why Parents Need to Monitor Their Child’s Internet Usage
Such a proliferation of the internet has also raised certain concerns, especially for parents. As kids are relying heavily on the internet for their educational and entertainment needs, parents can’t help but worry about the implications of this dependence on their mental and physical development. Staying indoors and spending hours upon hours in front of a screen isn’t healthy. What’s more, the dark side of the web, hiding countless threats, worsens the fears of parents. Thus, there are many reasons why the parents of this era absolutely have to monitor the internet activity, history, and usage of their kids, but the following grounds stand out from the lot. Give them a quick read.
1. Presence of Cyber-Predators
One of the most pressing reasons why parents should keep an eye on their child’s online activity is to protect them from cyber-predators. Cyber-predators or online predators are criminals who commit child abuse on the internet. These are sadistic individuals, who frequent chatrooms on the World Wide Web in search of prey. Upon finding an innocent kid, they work towards lowering the child’s inhibitions by sweet words and gifts and ultimately manipulate them into revealing private and personal information, which fulfills their purpose.
Cyber-predators are stalkers and hunters, and they are the worst type of criminals your kid could possibly encounter online. How can you tell if your child is in contact with an online predator? Here are a few warning signs:
- Secretive tendency to hide online activities by turning off the computer when an adult enters the room
- Obsession about visiting a particular website or chatroom
- Display of anger upon not being able to go online at a certain time
- Phone calls from strangers or numbers you don’t recognize
- Gifts from strangers or senders you don’t know about
- Anti-social disposition in a familial setting
- Questionable downloads from vulgar sites, etc.
If your child has been acting withdrawn or showing any of the aforementioned behavioral signs, you shouldn’t waste time and instantly check what they’ve been doing online and with whom they’ve been in contact. Remember, an online predator could destroy your child’s life, so always be on the lookout for this criminal entity.
2. Exposure to Inappropriate Content
Giving your kids unfiltered access to the World Wide Web is a reckless maneuver. Children are naturally curious. They’re always up for discovering new content, new experiences, and new sensations. They have the most impressionistic minds, which work like sponges and absorb all influences. While the internet hosts some of the most constructive, beneficial, and educational websites for kids, it also houses inappropriate channels and gateways, which can inflict mental or emotional damage on younger children. How can you tell if a website is inappropriate for kids or not? Here are a few giveaways:
- Disturbing images of violence, gore, or torture
- Sexually explicit material with complete or semi-nudity
- Troll groups with hate speech and extremist comments
- Illegal advertising
- Gang affiliations and content that encourages dangerous behavior
- Language with lots of profanity and vulgarity, etc.
Such websites are plain wrong for children. They can stunt their perceptions and nudge them towards aggression. Therefore, as a parent, you should filter out inappropriate online content and improper websites from the get-go. Turn on safe-search and use parental control tools and software to your advantage. Use your discretion to block websites that are visibly unfitting as well as those that are apparently passable but leak ill-suited content through their posts.
3. Dangers of Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is the act of harassing others online. Kids who use social media and other social networking platforms often become targets of cyberbullies. How do cyberbullies operate? They usually:
- Send mean-spirited texts directly to a victim
- Hack into a victim’s digital profiles and steal private data
- Horribly manipulate victim’s photos and post them publicly
- Spread rumors about a victim anonymously, etc.
Using mocking, shocking, teasing, or ostracizing words, cyberbullies send off their victims into despair. Despair, depression, and stress seriously harm younger children. Surfing the web, your child may fall into the trap of a cyberbully. If they do, they may act withdrawn, sad, and reluctant to go to school, unwilling to go online, or face social circles. This is where you need to step up and report the cyberbullies to the authorities. Prevent your kids from being bullied online in the first place by securing their social media accounts with strong passwords and teaching them how much information to give out online and how to respond to negative messages or comments from strangers on the web.
The internet is a treacherous place for children, consisting of online predators, vulgar websites, and cyber-bullies, as discussed in detail above. This is why it is absolutely vital for parents to monitor their child’s internet usage and to ensure their safety online.