Internet safety for kids

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It was the end of a long day when my aunt heard her 10 year old son bound into the room.

"Can mommy help me on the internet please? I need to find pictures of deciduous fruit."

My aunt doesn’t allow her boys on the internet without adult supervision, so I found myself Googling peaches with a very internet-savvy 10 year old that didn't need any help at all. My aunt has strict yet sensible rules for her boys though. She understands the dangers of the internet, not something that a lot of parents are aware of.  Internet predators are a great concern and Mike from Milnerton might not be the nice looking boy his profile picture shows you he is.

Facebook tells users they need to be at least 13 years old to have an account. But children are clever creatures. Suddenly 11 year olds are 13 with applications like, How Sexy Are You? on their profiles. This opens them up to so much more danger than people offering them sweets out of cars. Stranger danger in this day and age has broadened to include those people who lurk on the internet. But is banning children from the internet the answer when it is one of the greatest learning tools of our time?

Keep your child safer on the internet

Parents should teach their children internet safety the same way they teach their children not to open the door to strangers.

  • Supervise your children's use of the internet
  • Teach them not to share personal information online
  • Limit the time they spend online so that their homework time doesn't suffer.
  • Treat online friends the same as you would offline friends. Get to know them and their parents.
Internet sites aimed at kids deal in this in different ways. KidZui has launched a series of social networking features for its child-safe internet browsing software. Designed for children ages 3 to 12, KidZui is a web portal that is trying to draw an audience by adopting the same kind of features that have made Facebook popular. Parents are required to approve of the friends their children make online.

The world has become a smaller place but the dangers have become greater. Children are curious by nature and the internet is a valuable and fun tool. But if not monitored it can become a problem. Being aware of your children's habits and teaching them to be cautious will not only ensure their safety but bring you peace of mind.

Do you allow your children free access to the internet? Do you think that it’s too dangerous?
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