All our kids have access to the Internet nowadays – even if we restrict their time online, they still watch, listen to and learn things online. As parents, our job is to protect our kids from the harms of the world, teaching them how to look after themselves so that they can become well-rounded, self-sufficient adults. However, giving our kids free reign online makes it difficult to protect them from the things they might see, read, learn or believe from their searches on the internet.
While nobody wants to be a “helicopter parent” – that is, a parent who micromanages their kids in a claustrophobic and overbearing way – it is crucial that we pay attention to our kids’ online activity.
In this blog you will find three reasons you should pay attention to your kids’ online activity, with helpful tips on how to do this without becoming paranoid or breaching their privacy.
Let’s get started!
Reason #1: Your Kids Will Be Exposed To Sexual Content Online
This subheading isn’t here to scare you; at the end of the day, all kids are going to learn about sex one way or another. However, you need to make sure your kids are not being exposed to explicit content when they are too young to know what it means.
For this reason, it is important that, when your kids start browsing the internet without your supervision, you should be having “the talk” with them before they do so. If your teenage child accesses pornography online, they need to understand that this is not necessarily normal behaviour, and be given parameters to handle anything they’re exposed to. Opening this dialogue will also be helpful down the line, so that if your child has questions or is affected by something they find online, they know they can speak with you about it directly.
In addition to having open and honest conversations about sex and porn, you should install parental controls on your child’s devices. These can help limit what your child can access via their device, meaning you can rest assured they won’t be exposed to anything beyond their age rating.
Reason #2: Violence Is Everywhere Online
In May 2020, when the explicit video of the murder of African American man George Floyd circulated online, it became clear to all parents that violent content can be posted online without any warnings. This means that if your kids spend enough time on YouTube or social media, they might find themselves watching violent movies, or videos from the news.
While it is obviously important for kids to understand that the world isn’t all rainbows and smiles, your kids also shouldn’t be watching X-rated violence on their devices. For this reason, you should definitely pay attention to what they are watching online. This doesn’t have to be a secretive activity – you don’t have to pinch your kids’ iPhone and scroll through while they aren’t looking – but you can make it part of the bargain. If your kids want their own device, it means they must be willing to show you what they are using it for. It’s as simple as that.
Reason #3: Your Kids Talk To Each Other Online. All The Time.
Talking online can be a great way to connect, particularly during this time when kids aren’t at school or seeing their friends daily. Socialising online is totally normal for most generations nowadays – but when it comes to kids connecting via iMessage or other messaging platforms, you should be aware of the dangers this poses.
This doesn’t mean you should stop your kids from contacting their friends online – of course not! Once again, this is about openness, honesty, and using an online resource to help you navigate these often tricky conversations.
Here are a few things you should discuss with your kids about online messaging.
- Things can sometimes come across differently to the way you mean them. Communicating, particularly in arguments, via text message can be difficult because it’s hard to get across what you actually mean.
- You should never send exposing pictures, even if someone asks you to. More and more young people are sending nude photographs to each other online, partly because they feel pressured to be cool and fit in. You should discuss this with your kids to ensure they don’t go down this path.
If you give your kids free rein online using their own devices, use these guidelines to help you navigate those more tricky subjects.