Over the past years we have seen the media consumption by kids triple, at least in both television and Internet-based media, hence the need for parental control programs. Enough.org provides all kinds of research on how different types of content affects kids whether it be adult content or hate-centric sites. It’s not new news that inappropriate content is harmful to kids.
The question online and offline is really, “How do we protect our kids from danger.” Well, offline, it’s a lot easier. You can watch your kids, or make sure they are supervised at all times, but with the advent of televisions in the bedroom, the Internet on their phone and a laptop laying around the house, how can you be sure your kids are never exposed to inappropriate content? There is no simple answer. Parent control programs, of course, helps you monitor online activity. Setting web time limits, blocking the Internet and even turning off the Internet will help but educating our kids about online dangers is the only way to truly help keep them safe.
Interestingly, kids spend most of their time on Facebook, YouTube or gaming sites, and it the occasional curiosity that gets them in to trouble. Even innocently searching for topics will resolve inappropriate content, so monitoring (with parental control programs) them help you understand their online behavior and understand how to start the conversation and keep the conversation alive about online safety.
With social networking, it’s very important to help kids understand that anyone can be anyone online. Just because a picture and profile are posted doesn’t mean that’s the real person. Unless your friend on Facebook is also a friend that you see face-to-face, then you can’t be sure. It’s amazing to see people on Facebook with over one thousand “friends”. We seem to be competing with each other on how many people we can collect on a “friends” list. This sends a clear message to kids when adults behave this way online. We are teaching our kids to be like us, to do as we do and that includes all the bad Facebook and Twitter behavior. With parental control software, at a minimum, you can monitor their activity, especially with younger kids and set time limits and set up “online” schedules for the older kids.
So, keep it simple for yourself, and try to be a good digital parent with online tools and parental controls to help you keep your kids safe.