Nearly everyone has access to the Internet on a daily basis. There is no real censorship online and many are concerned about Internet safety, especially with your children. The risks of children being exposed to racy graphics and adult materials are high. Children are solicited online every day and the risks increase as the child gets older.
Teenagers are at increased risk of exposure to inappropriate materials and dangerous predators because they go online without supervision. They are more likely to have online discussions with strangers than younger children. Many of the discussions are about adult topics and many revolve around relationships and sex.
Internet safety is often threatened when your child or teen is conducting a search. A child may enter the word “toy” into a search engine and find adult materials not suitable for children. A child may come across inappropriate information accidentally. Pop-up advertisements can also contain inappropriate language and graphics. If this has ever happened to you – you know what I’m talking about; the ads start popping up so fast that you can’t stop them without shutting down your web browser completely. This can scare the heck out of a child.
Children may also be exposed to violent content as well. There are many sites that house hateful material and some sites may encourage children and teens to engage in activities that are illegal or to engage in activities that will put them in a precarious situation. The difficulty is that the teens and children don’t have to search for the material; it often comes to them through emails, chat rooms and advertisements.
The Internet may also be used by other children to harass a certain child or teen. The Internet has replaced the prank phone call in many cases, but the harassment is often very hateful and belligerent. Older children or teen may bully an unpopular student anonymously. Bullying over the Internet seems like a small worry, but it does pose a concern for child safety when using the Internet.
One major concern about Internet safety is sexual predators. A trusting child could easily provide personal information that could lead a sexual deviant right to his home. The child or teen may choose to meet with the predator putting himself and his family at risk. Child molesters have been known to use chat rooms and emails to befriend a child and gain her trust. Then the predator arranges an encounter in person.
Less horrific, but very valid concerns about child safety on the Internet are hackers and viruses. It is very easy for a child to innocently download a file containing a virus. The virus can be could damage the computer. The virus can also increase the odds of a hacker gaining access to the computer. The hacker can obtain personal information about the family, including financial information and credit card numbers.
In some cases, the child gives out personal information without understanding the consequences. He may provide a third party with credit-card numbers or bank account information without fully knowing the ramifications.
Parents need to always take Internet safety into consideration, especially when children are involved. It is important to balance the child’s independence and privacy with parental involvement. Taking time to create rules and regulations and taking time to talk to children will help lessen the risks to children’s safety when going on line.