WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – Between computers, smartphones and even video game consoles, keeping children safe online is getting more challenging for parents.
With a simple click of the mouse, or now just a swipe of a finger, it connects kids to virtually limitless information. However, this instant access can also create a potential risk for online danger, if parents do not closely monitor the content their kids are viewing.
“It becomes really important that parents open up a dialogue with their kids about what they’re doing, who they’re interacting with, and what kinds of content they’re accessing,” said child development professor Deborah Linebarger.
According to a Department of Justice report, one in seven kids between the ages of 10 and 17 years old, were sexually solicited online. Seventy percent of these solicitations happen on a home computer, and 49 percent of the children surveyed did not tell anyone about being solicited.
The main reason for not telling was for fear of getting their computer taken away. Experts say the earlier you talk to kids about their habits online, the better you are at preventing potential situation of online danger.
“If you wait until they’re even eight, nine or 10, in a lot of ways, you have waited too long. You should be talking about it much sooner, so that you can help them develop good habits, ” Linebarger said.
Nurse practitioner Patsy Hoyer said, “You have to be over kids’ shoulders because it can happen anyplace, anytime. They’re not always in their bedroom doing it. They’re not locked up. They can do it from their smartphones. They can look at these things anytime, anyplace.”
According to the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, some tips to help keep your children safe online include.
- Be involved – Consider activities you can work on together.
- Keep computers in an open area – This way you will be able to easily monitor computer activity.
- Set rules and warn about dangers – Make sure your child knows boundaries of what they are allowed to do on the computer.
This will allow you to supervise your child’s online activities while teaching them good computer habits.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children only spend a maximum of two hours online each day.