Protecting Your Children- And Their Reputations – on The Internet

The advent of the Internet has been one of the most defining changes for not only modern Western culture, but the world. This tool not only allows instant answers to prevailing questions, but day-to-day important information that helps us function better and more efficiently. Don’t know how to change the oil in your car, there is a YouTube tutorial for that. Not sure how to make a tomato tart; there are a plethora of recipes just waiting for you to click. While the Internet has redefined how we live as adults for the better, it simultaneously has forced newer generations to see, understand, and interact with the outside world in a completely new way. While research, homework, and connecting with other people have never been easier or better, Internet safety risks for children and teens are ever present.

Children and teens are the most vulnerable to a plethora of possible issues. The most obvious is an obsession with social media, constantly connecting to Facebook or Instagram or another site to quantify the number of likes with one’s popularity. But there are worse evils lurking in the depths of cyberspace. These evils include cyberbullying through email or on social media; age inappropriate content displayed without warnings; predators that link to the young through social media or other sharing sites; or kids and teens themselves revealing much more information about themselves than they realize. Perhaps a child innocently shares information such as his or her address or when his or her parents are away from home or where he or she goes to school. But sometimes the information is more debaucherous- one poor choice of photograph can linger on the Internet or cell phones for the eternity of a child’s school years.

Internet safety for kids needn’t be overwhelming. Parents should begin with an honest conversation about personal and online safety for kids and continue regular talks about making good choices even in bad situations. The more conversations and the more supportive presence offered by the parent, the more responsible behaviors the child will exhibit. But parents cannot be a constant eye on a child, especially a teenager. There are online programs designed specifically to help parents protect their children with Internet safety for kids. Such programs- some are free while others require a subscription- educate parents and children about how to behave online, as well as warning signs of a bad situation. Some programs even offer the ability to monitor the child’s online activity through data reports and sites visited. These same programs will coach parents through dealing with the issue.

Parents know how important online safety for kids is, and that they cannot always be there to watch over what decisions their kids make. Preventing bad online choices means preventing bad reputations, being rejected from colleges or jobs, and staying physically and mentally safe. Good parenting means knowing how to approach your child’s online activity. Social media site pictures are often never fully erased, thus can linger or define your child’s reputation forever.