Wade Kelsey is the father of a three-year-old boy. He got in contact with Parenta to share his concerns about internet safety and how he plans to keep his child safe:
When I was in middle school, most of my peers were crazed about so called “useful sites”. We had a list of domains that was constantly updated during lunch breaks. Sites there were sorted by categories “free music”, “gory videos” etc.
Every day after classes, we browsed the internet in order to find something obscene and brag about it to others. It was kind of a tradition to gather around and add something new to the list. If someone found a video or a photo that was deemed ‘worse’ than what the others had found, he earned respect in the eyes of his schoolmates.
Of course, we also visited gaming portals and other fun and harmless sites, but that is not my point.
My point is that I never thought about how wrong it was that my parents didn’t control my online activities. If they did I would probably be labeled “a loser”, but as a parent myself now I realise it would be the right thing to do.
Recently, my three-year-old son started to learn how to use a tablet. He can already play games on it, and I understand that soon he will browse the internet by himself.
And it makes me terrified, when I imagine him seeing all the obscure content I’ve seen in my teens. This led me to learn more about internet safety and how to protect my child from all that inappropriate content.
The average time kids and teens spend on the internet using their mobile devices has increased almost twice over the past three years – from 1.88 hours per day to 3.26. More to that, 26% of them are deleting browser history to hide it from their parents.
12% have encountered inappropriate content accidentally through pop-up ads, email newsletters, etc.
Mums and dads cannot be fully aware of what content their children are seeing and for what purposes.
35% of kids have reported being cyberbullied. And this is not just about squabbling on the web. Cyberbullying is something that should be taken seriously, as it can cause serious mental trauma and even lead to people committing suicide (Hannah Smith, Izzy Dix cases).
Internet safety is not only about protecting kids from inappropriate sites and cyberbullies. Apart from psychological damage, neglecting it may lead to serious real-life consequences.
8% of kids have met or talked to the strangers they encounter on the web offline.
Unfortunately, a lot of parents are not aware about those numbers.
What should we do?
Firstly, adults should inform their children about dangers they may find on the internet. It is the most effective way to protect them.
Still, not all kids are eager to uncover their online activities to their parents. In this case, prohibiting any access to the internet won’t help, and will only make things worse.
Luckily, there are numerous parental control software on the market. And any parent can easily find the one that suits them best. I already started using one, it’s called pumpic.com
However, it does not always solve the problem, as 80% of parents do not even turn this software on after the purchase. And those who do, most do not take the time to find out how to use it correctly.
Internet safety for our children is not an issue that can be solved on its own. The Government can’t take on the responsibility of protecting children alone, even though they try hard to do so by enforcing laws and penalties for not obeying them, as well as well as creating different educational programs around the subject.
It is up to parents to do most of the work. Even if our kids won’t understand some of our actions or limitations today, we still have to do our best to protect them for the sake of their future.
Statistics and additional information sources: