Nearly everything we do in life is now connected to the internet: shopping, working, playing and learning, some might say it's become human nature. But as we become more and more wired, so does our exposure to all sorts of content online. It’s not just viruses and malware that you need to be worried about; it’s also things like bullying or sexual exploitation. And these threats can come from anywhere – even trusted sources in a person's life.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a computer expert or an IT specialist to keep your young children safe online. All parents should take the time with their kids (starting at the earliest possible age!) to initiate difficult conversations about what they may be exposed to online. The ideal outcome is that you will continue to build relationships within your family and tackle these difficult issues in a productive way.
Being a parent means you are responsible for raising a well-informed individual. As they continue to grow up, it's important to have crucial conversations with your kids about all kinds of things, including sensitive subjects like sex, drug abuse, online pornography, violence, bullying, mental health disorders, trafficking, etc.
Before the internet, it was easier to control when a kid would encounter these types of more serious topics, and parents were able to decide when they felt it was the appropriate time to teach their children about them. However, with social media and the bottomless pit that is Google, kids are being exposed to a whole range of content earlier and oftentimes, not on purpose. This is why parents need to take a proactive approach and talk with their kids about these difficult subjects, especially if they are exploring social media because it could make all the difference for their online experience.
Having these difficult conversations with your kids removes the uncomfortable stigma and makes them more inclined to talk with you about similar topics in the future. It may not be easy for you to initiate the conversation, but it's necessary if you want them to grow up safe and well informed.
As a parent, having deep conversations with your kids helps you and them learn more about what they are thinking and feeling. You are responsible for making sure your children know they can always come to you with their problems.
You have the absolute right to know what your children are doing in the virtual world. As an involved parent, you should remain informed about any dangers they might face so that you can provide the necessary support and guidance. When they come to you with questions or concerns about something they saw online, you are prepared to have these conversations.
If your child is having a tough time with something online, don't ignore it. Ask questions and help them find ways to deal with the situation. Every child is different and therefore deals with things in their own unique way. It's not your job to figure out their problems completely but to create a safe place where they can openly communicate with you.
It's important to have open communication with your kids because it helps them feel better about themselves, which in turn makes you feel better because you know that they are able to handle things that come their way.
Remember, you are their rock when they aren't able to stand on their own two feet. Giving them advice when they need it, being their conversation partner or just listening is all that's necessary.
Parents should always be thinking about how to keep their children safe online. By having open communication with your children, you can have a difficult conversation in a way that is comfortable for them and yourself. These tough conversations will ultimately strengthen your bond and create a more transparent relationship between you and your child. Happy parenting!