Today's children are digital natives--they grow up surrounded by and depending on technology. It's now common to see three-year-olds in restaurants playing on iPads. Times are changing, and fast!
With all this technology available, it's not surprising that children start using the Internet at a young age. While the Internet is an incredible resource, it can also be very dangerous if kids don't know how to navigate safely.
Check out these statistics from Net Lingo:
- 4,000,000 children are posting content to the Web everyday
- 15,000,000 youth use Instant Messaging
- 76% of parents don't have rules about what their kids can do on the computer
- 65% of parents believe that kids do things online that they wouldn't want their parents to know about
- One third of kids have been contacted by a stranger and half of these were considered inappropriate
- 20% of children age 10-17 have been solicited sexually online; that's 1 out of every 5 kids
- 89% of sexual solicitations are made in either chat rooms or Instant Messages
- 75% of youth who received an online sexual solicitation did not tell a parent
- 9 out of 10 parents will never know that any inappropriate contact has occurred
Shocking, right? Internet safety is uncharted parenting territory, but the need for clear safety rules to keep kids protected cannot be ignored. Here are our top two tips for getting started:
- Define the Rules Early. Each parent and household is different, but having a conversation with your children before they are allowed to access the Internet independently is a good starting point. During this conversation you can make your rules, and the consequences for breaking those rules, very clear.
- Be Engaged and Monitor. Even the best rules won't stick without enforcement. Make sure your children know that you are interested in what they are doing online. Ask them what websites they think are best and why. Follow up an open dialogue by monitoring your child's activity and asking questions about anything that may seem questionable.
To learn more about Internet safety from the experts, we invite you to join us at our upcoming Chalk Talk with Monique Nelson of Web Wise Kids, an OC-based non-profit dedicated to helping keep kids safe online. The Chalk Talk will be held this Wednesday, February 29th from 7-8:30pm at our Mable Campus. Learn more and RSVP here.
(Image from BalpreetKaur.com)
Contributed by Alyssa, Fairmont Private Schools