Children have participated in activities on the Internet more and more frequently in recent years. The purpose is not only about entertaining but also for effective learning, especially for older children. During the COVID-19, children spend more time on the Internet to learn, play and explore the outside world.
As a nature for all things, the Internet also affects children on both sides, positive and negative. On the positive side, the Internet provides a huge knowledge base for healthy learning and entertainment; provides a wide, instant, and extensive, information-sharing environment.
On the negative side, the Internet is huge garbage of toxic data, information that badly affects children’s perception, physical and psychological health if they are not properly protected. In the process of growing up, children lack life experience, get easily tricked, not sufficiently aware and are not equipped with network security skills.
Therefore, children become the most vulnerable targets due to the negative impact of the Internet. The situation of children being attacked by negative impacts of the Internet is happening more frequently, resulting in increasing consequences in the world.
This article will analyze some of the hidden, potential risks of children when joining the internet environment, give you a wider view of Internet safety for kids, as well as handling measures and propose some solutions to ensure Internet safety for children from the perspective of the government agency as well as parents.
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Internet safety for kids – First, know the potential dangers
The potential risks of the Internet that affecting badly the kids are diverse, but can be divided into the following main groups:
- The group which is at risk of being deceived, taken advantage of, leading to the theft of personal and family information and then it will be used in illegal acts such as impersonating, selling, stealing money in accounts, defamation, controlling parents, etc.
Children can be deceived through self-created images, videos in which the predators impersonate their parents’ friends, give them gifts and ask them to disclose information.
Kids can also be exploited by curiosity. When they access websites, forums, links that seem fun, they accidentally disclose information, allowing hackers to install wiretapping, peeping applications, damage to computer data.
- The group is which at risk of being intimidated, bullied, harassed, mentally terrorized, causing them severe psychological effects and even forcing them to perform illegal acts. There are possible forms such as threats of beatings, boycotts, disclose of sensitive information or personal images, etc.
- The group which is at risk of being affected by harmful content, violent movies, false information, etc. Those things leave anti-scientific and unethical actions, aggressive behavior or shyness when communicating, etc.
- The group of Internet addicts who in the long run, will suffer both mental and physical consequences. Those are autism, delusions, hallucinations, hyperactivity, obesity or diseases of the eyes, spine, etc.
How parents are currently protected their kids?
Currently, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), up to 750,000 people are trying to reach children online for sexual purposes at any time and up to 75% of children are exposed to offensive content on social networks.
According to a quick survey, about 53% of girls and 65% of boys have met their friends online in real life; 75% of parents do not control their children’s Internet access time and 66% are not concerned with their children’s internet use.
There is a misconception that parents only care about their children screentime, but not what is actually happening on that screen.
Although the figures may not be completely accurate, it does show a worrying situation that needs immediate action. Usually, parents have taken measures to ensure their children’s safety, such as asking their children to only open allowed websites or using professionally specialized tools to monitor the search history.
Usually, when realizing the potential dangers of the Internet, for the Internet safety for kids, parents often tend to control whenever possible. Many families place computers in easy-to-see locations, limit screen time and the kids can only use the devices under adult supervision or only when being authorized.
For families who don’t have time, they check their child’s access history and apply penalties.
The above control measures are mainly situational, it is asymptomatic treatment, not the cause treatment. Because not all parents have enough knowledge and skills to directly control while today’s children (especially in big cities) gain knowledge and update technology very quickly (some know how to use VPN to circumvent telecom’s automatic blocking) and not all parents have time to constantly monitor their child.
What matters is a more tough, improper control can form the telling lies habit in children (they tell lies to be allowed to access the Internet) or make children cautious and afraid to share anything with you. Even the use for positive purposes (such as learning, entertainment) also reduces efficiency when children feel they are always being watched.
Parental control software
In addition to direct supervision, to prevent sites that contain pornographic content which children may encounter on the Internet, many parents had to use applications. It can be said that when the application is installed on the phone, the parent’s computer becomes quite supportive, helping parents control their children.
The operating systems and devices already have monitoring functions such as the “child lock” but have not been used by many parents (such as the PIN lock, Guided Access function is available on iOS and screen time on iOS12, privacy settings in Facebook, save browsing history in browsers).
These applications are now very diverse, using many different technologies including domestic and foreign applications, free or paid. However, as we mentioned above, you have to consider when choosing parental control software, as choosing ones that are too over-controlling can do harm to you and your kids relationship as their personal rights are being invaded.
To ensure your child’s online environment is safe and healthier, you should consider using an additional online content filtering tool which is considered as one of the best free parental control software to hide 15 types of harmful content on the Internet, including:
- Horrifying content like gore, accidents, ghosts, violence, murder, terrorism, etc
- Content about stimulants, addictive substances such as alcohol, beer, marijuana, drugs, etc
- Content with aggressive elements, hurting others like Hate speech
This free porn blocker extension can help to minimize your child’s access to harmful content, ensuring a healthy online environment for your child but at the same time, not invading their privacy rights.
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Solutions to ensure Internet safety for kids
This is a difficult problem for all the countries around the world, requiring the coordination of the government, school and family for the good sake of the future generation.
From the perspective of state management in general, policies related to a safe Internet access for children must be carefully evaluated in terms of both positive and negative impacts on children, students and in different circumstances and conditions.
It is necessary to start from propaganda to raise awareness of responsibility, to disseminate basic knowledge of Internet safety for kids to the entire society, including parents and children. State management specialized agencies on information safety and security need to assume the prime responsibility seriously.
From a parent’s perspective, it is necessary to recognize the negative impact of the Internet on children. Parents must clearly define the responsibility of the family as they cannot completely depend on education from school, in fact, you need to coordinate with school to guide kids, especially during the time at home.
Also, you have to proactively find solutions to keep the Internet safety for kids, not waiting or relying on schools, teachers.
You need to actively educate your kids to raise their awareness about potential risks of the Internet, avoid their common misperceptions (For example: On the internet, no one knows who they are etc.). You can make an agreement with your children some principles of safe Internet use. We have articles about internet safety tips for parents that you may need.
Not all parents have enough knowledge, skills, and enough time to guide their children. In this case, parents – with their accumulated knowledge, experience, and life skills – also need to update themselves through different ways to be able to guide their children.
They can find experts, send their child to participate in online life skills courses. Accordingly, combining the above solutions, when children get older, have a better awareness, knowledge and skills, they become self-immune to negative impacts of the Internet environment in a sustainable way.
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