While there are millions of kid’s sites on the internet that are appropriate for playing games, researching school projects and finding out about the world, the very ‘openness’ of the internet means that much of the material is unregulated, so remember:
- Anyone can write anything on the internet, so if you are using material as research, confirm the information with another source before you use it if you are doubtful of its authenticity.
- If you meet someone on the internet, they may not be who they say they are – it’s easy to lie on the internet.
- Paedophiles use the internet as a way of making ‘friends’ with children. Never let your child physically meet someone he’s met on the internet alone.
- Email can be used as powerful tool to harass, intimidate or bully others.
- Your child may be provided with inappropriate information via the internet – bomb or drug making.
- Be sure you are using a secure and reputable site before disclosing your credit card details to make a purchase.
- On-line gambling is big business – and it’s possible to use a credit card to do it.
- It is possible to innocently find inappropriate sites when you are searching for something quite different!
Properly monitored by an adult, the internet should be a fun activity for children. But without the suitable supervision, there are ways that your child can be exploited, harassed or intimidated which can have an extremely detrimental effect on his self-esteem as well as inter-family relations.
Too much time in front of the computer can also be the cause of:
- social isolation
Children on a steady diet of inappropriately violent material via TV, computer games, movies and the internet, can be negatively affected by:
- mimicking violent behaviour
- becoming desensitised to violence and believing that it’s acceptable.
- becoming easily frightened in their familiar surroundings.
It’s easy to get hooked on cyberspace. Whether he’s chatting online with friends around the globe, or gaming with online communities, your child may find that he’s so absorbed with his internet connections, that the other, more real people in his life drift into the background.
If you’re worried that your child is addicted to the internet, look for the following signs in his behaviour:
- Becoming moody and withdrawn
- Choosing to use the computer in preference to other activities, including spending time with friends
- Making computer time a top priority in his life – at the cost of sleeping, eating, schoolwork, homework and family responsibilities
- Finding it difficult to leave the computer and engage with other activities. Only ‘coming alive’ when he’s talking about what he’s doing on the computer – the games, his opponents, the people he meets.
This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot.