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5-year-olds online - deal with it!

 
Parents need to know how the internet works to protect their kids online.
By Marlon Abrahams
Article originally in Parent24
According to a new poll conducted by online security company McAfee, “four fifths of British 5-year-olds either own or use the internet”.

I would wager that these stats are probably a pretty accurate reflection of what is going on all over the so-called first world, in countries like the US, Canada, the rest of Western Europe etc. The poll illustrates what I think most of us parents who have access to the internet in our homes already know. Our kids, certainly mine, are using the internet more and more. Maddison so far only uses it to play games, Hannah is on it very often doing research for school projects, and Sofia has her own Skype account which she uses on her own to contact me.

This is their new reality and it’s as normal as cassette tapes and the Walkman was to my generation. The internet is an amazing resource for all kinds of things… including the bad things. I’m not going to harp on about the bad things ‘cos, well, I for one don’t go through a day without hearing about all the scary things that can go wrong with an unsuspecting kid on the internet. And it’s pretty much covered in the article anyway, so read it if you’ve been living under a rock and have no clue.

I’m here to encourage parents to firstly actively engage themselves on the internet. Learn, play, experiment and explore social networks, chat forums, dating sites, kids’ sites etc, so that you know what’s out there and what to expect. The worst thing you can tell your kid if they ask you “what does this link mean?” is to say “I don’t know, click on it and see.” You need to know before they do.

We need to embrace new technologies and we need to encourage our kids to master it. Already some schools in SA at the top of the food chain have introduced or are thinking of introducing laptops and tablets as an official school necessity. It makes sense if you think that one laptop could replace all the text and writing books required. It’s the way the world’s moving and we as parents need to try to stay ahead of the game as far as we can.

As an education tool and knowledge resource the internet is invaluable and never before have our kids, and indeed all of humanity, had the opportunity to access credible info at the click of a mouse.

Having said that, we also need to instil good common sense in our kids when using the device and applications. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. I consider myself pretty aware and even I have wasted valuable time exploring some new business opportunity online which invariable turns out to be a scam. Luckily I know the questions to ask to unveil the truth. These days the tricksters even have active working call centres to back up their BS.

You’re never going to be able to protect your kids 24/7, but you MUST teach them how to protect themselves when they’re surfing solo. It’s not rocket science, just good old common sense.

Do you teach your kids bout being safe online?


Read more by Marlon Abrahams


Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

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