Does internet safety software keep kids safe?
What are your children looking at online and who are they talking to on social media sites?
When it comes to the plethora of dangers our children are exposed to when browsing the internet one has to ask “should I be doing more to protect my child?”
This question has been hitting our inbox like the rounds of a relentless mini gun and to be honest I did not want to get involved with this topic due to its delicate nature and as a parent myself I do not like to think of such things.
But as the bloodsuckers at the major news broadcasters and press thrive from trying to keep parents in a constant state of fear i am going to try to keep and end this post on a slightly different topic to the norm.
OK so to get the usual stuff out the way without scaremongering, some of the common dangers in this digital minefield include but are not limited to:
Exposure to criminals (including pedophiles)
illegal how to information
and so on
Now according to a recent survey a group of parents were asked whether they let their kids online in private (i.e. bedroom and so on), if they have any type of spy or blocking software on their computers and if their children have access the internet on their phones.
38% of parents let their children online whenever they want with no restrictions or software.
So the topic we want to highlight here is Morality and trust
Now I know a lot of you out there would not dare put blocking software or suggest to a stroppy teenager that they cannot use the internet as it may cause a backlash ending in the sentence “YOUR SOOO UNFAIR!”. No? Maybe its just mine then?
Anyway the fact is you know what is best for your kids so what are the alternatives.
Advise and communicate the dangers of online activity?
Internet only for certain hours in public area (not in private room)?
Internet blocking software (block harmful or adult sites)?
Spy software (snoop on your child and see what they have been up to)?
Well I assume that the answer will be different for most families as we all have different situations to face and contend with.
I personally would talk to my kids first in the “bad news sandwich” type way. If you’re not familiar with this it is the same as the “criticism sandwich” where by you start the conversation with something positive on a similar subject then slowly move towards criticism (or highlighting dangers in this case) then end on something nice and positive again. This works wonders with kids as you don’t end on an argument.
Here is an example of how I would approach it:
Hey Son I want to find out about what way you are using the internet for apart from just playing games.
OK Dad well I was just working on my homework and doing a bit of research about the Roman Empire and then I am going to talk to some of my friends on Facebook.
How are you getting on with your reasearch?
OK but there are so many sites I don’t know what to look at and where to find what I need.
Have you tried Wikipedia? it is a fantastic site and has reliable content on almost any subject you can think of.
Oh yeah I heard someone talking about that I will give it a try thanks.
So Son how many Facebook friends do you have now?
Yeh that’s loads more than me, do you know all of them personally?
Yeh there all my friends at school apart from 1 pending but im not to sure who he is?
Well don’t add him until you know who it is as there are some people out there who are not honest and even criminals who just want to add you and may even be pretending to be someone else.
Why would someone do that Dad?
Well some people are just not well off and have to steal and cheat for a living, Look im not saying you should be too worried just keep it in mind not to give out your details of where you live, school, phone numbers or anything like that and never arrange to meet anyone you don’t know no matter what they tell you. Most people in life are good but it is easy for the bad ones to hide behind a computer.
OK dad no problem
So let me show you Wikipedia and then I will let you try to beat me at Gran Tourismo.
No way Dad you’ve got no chance I can beat you and I havent even got a driving license.
See how I start off speaking about something positive and slowly bring up the negative subject and finally take his mind off it by changing the subject again to something positive.
And that folks is the bad news sandwich.
If your relationship is a bit more rocky or its a pre-pubescent teen your dealing with you may want to opt for the internet safety software.
There are certain moral issues you will have to deal with when it comes to spying on your kids but blocking is a more upfront way to deal with it.
If you feel your child is spending too much time alone on the internet and seems to become withdrawn and not want to be involved with the family or their personality seems to drastically change you may already have a problem and I would definitely take action one way or the other.
If your child has a free reign of internet access and they seem to have had a personality transplant (for the worse!) Try talking to them, if this does not work and you think that an internet ban will make things worse you have to ask yourself is spying on them going to cause as much harm compared as if they are really in danger?
This is the moral issue that i will end on.
All comments and experiences are welcome but please keep them child friendly.