Difficulties of raising a child

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Raising children can suddenly make the world seem a frightening and dangerous place. While you may have grown up wandering the streets or visiting friends or the mall without telling your parents where you were going, giving your own children that kind of freedom is unthinkable for many parents today. In the age of smartphones, we’re accustomed to knowing where our kids are at all times. But while smartphones can help keep your children safe by keeping them in constant contact, that technology can also put them in danger online. Children and teens today are more tech-savvy than ever, having grown up with the technology we’ve seen evolve so quickly over time. But even when your kids have as much technical know-how as adults, they don’t yet have the experience and discernment necessary to keep them safe online. No parent can monitor their children round the clock, and it may be tempting to take the easy way out and block access entirely. But the internet is a valuable tool, more integral to our modern lives than ever, and necessary for children to learn to navigate safely. While there are general guidelines to follow to keep your children safe online, many of them are common-sense and too general to help in many situations. And some of them are out of touch with modern technology. Few children are using email much. Instead, they are using social media networks and smartphone apps for chatting and sharing multimedia online. Chances are your child is chatting with an app like Snapchat or Kick, or a social network like Ask.fm.

Keeping Kids Safe Online

In this section, we will give a general overview of the kinds of things you and do to keep your children safe, and things they can do themselves. The FBI has published a useful guide that is well worth visiting and as you would expect from the US Department of Justice, it takes the protection of our children from online dangers very seriously indeed. A fundamental issue that has to be addressed when talking about internet safety, is the fact that advances in computer and telecommunications technology not only offer the opportunity to access new sources of knowledge and widen their cultural experience, it also opens up the possibility of exposure to harmful material, exploitation, and even sexual predators, in some circumstances. No parent would ever want their child to experience any of these traumatic and challenging scenario’s, which is why it is critical for parents to understand the dangers and monitor their child’s activity within reason, as well as spotting any behavioral changes in them that could indicate a problem.

You should never be immune to the fact that there are a small percentage of individuals who surf the internet with a view to making friends with a child and grooming them for sexual exploitation at a later date. These predators are particularly adept at gradually lowering a child’s inhibitions over a period of time and will often pretend to be someone that they are not. A middle-aged man with bad intentions could easily create a profile that is very different to reality in order to befriend a child, so you should be prepared as a parent to ask who they are talking to if you are unsure in any way and also look out for noticeable changes in their behavior. Warning signs can include spending large amounts of time online, especially during evening hours and there may be some examples of pornography on your child’s computer, which may have been introduced as a way of normalizing sex between adults and children. If your child becomes withdrawn or shows any of the signs that you can find a list of in guides like the one compiled by the FBI, you should be prepared to talk openly with them about your suspicions and make them aware of the dangers they are facing. If you do find evidence of inappropriate contact between an adult and your child or have any concerns at all, you should not hesitate to try and discuss the situation with your son or daughter and if necessary, contact your local law enforcement agency for further assistance. Open communication is the key to avoiding major problems like sexual exploitation and cyberbullying from happening to your child, so use your parental instincts and act swiftly. We want to aim for our kids to be smart digital citizens, as the internet is such a fundamental part of modern life and commerce. Education and entertainment are all easily accessible and the Attorney General’s office has set up a national task force to help enforce school and campus safety for all children, so that kids can use the internet safely and not be exposed to issues like violence in schools and bullying.

Cyber Bullying

Bullying is not exactly a new phenomenon but it has taken on a new form with the invention of the internet. Cyber Bullying is the use of different technologies such as cell phones and any device connected to the internet, to send or post images or text that is designed to hurt or embarrass another person. These acts of aggression can even take place via video game systems which are connected to the internet, so you will need to be vigilant as a parent to spot any signs of this happening to your child. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter as well as popular chat rooms and forums, are all mediums that are used by cyber bullies to attack their victims in a number of different hurtful ways. The acts can be rumor spreading, disclosure of personal information and can even involve the bully impersonating the victim. Cyber bullying can be carried out overtly or covertly. The removal of this face-to-face exchange which used to be a feature of a playground bully in the physical world seems to make some of the perpetrators act more boldly in the cyber world. According to statistics compiled by NoBullying.com, it is estimated that 43% of teens were victims of cyberbullying in the US during 2010. This is an alarming statistic and shows the need for parents to monitor their child as best they can and maintain an open dialogue about the subject with them. Not every parent is aware that they have control over any personal information collected online about their child, if they are younger 13 years of age. It is an important law that helps you get the opportunity to consent to data being held about your child if they under 13 and it also means that the website has a legal obligation to keep any information it collects secure. It is worth taking the time to read about privacy laws when it comes to protecting your child online and there are also some useful tips to refer to that are designed to help keep sensitive data away from unauthorized access.

  • You should not give out any personal information without first asking permission from your parents and anything that could easily identify you such as your last name and home address should be avoided.
  • Think about a sensible screen name for yourself that does not include any genuine personal information like your name or date of birth and always tell your parents before meeting an online friend, as not everyone is who they claim to be online.
  • The Family Online Safety Institute offers plenty of helpful advice on how to practice good digital parenting and their aim is to give parents the confidence to help their children navigate their way safely around the online world.

The range of issues and subjects that you need to address with your children about internet safety will vary according to their age and it is definitely part of modern-day parenting that you have a sound understanding of what is going on in the digital world. Technology has the ability to help you become a better parent and develop a trusting and collaborative relationship with your child when it comes to how they use the internet. This can only be successfully achieved if you have a broad understanding and knowledge of the sites they might have access to and the content they are likely to encounter.

The internet is an amazing resource for learning about the world, interacting with other people, and having fun. Not only that, but using the internet for work and research has become an important part of modern life. It makes sense, then, that parents would want to help their young children learn to use the internet. But we all know that, like the real world, the internet is full unsavory, unsafe, and unhelpful things. From explicit sexual content to violent imagery, there is a lot available on the internet that children should not have access to. Unfortunately, unlike in the “real world,” on the internet this is all just a few mouse-clicks away. As parents and educators we need to help shape the online experiences of the children under our care. But content filtering isn’t the only thing we should worry about — it isn’t enough just to make sure they don’t accidentally see any porn (though that is certainly very important).

Goals for a Child-Friendly Internet Experience

There are several different objectives we should be pursuing. These can be divided into two categories — negative (things to censor, block, or filter) and positive (things to encourage or promote).

“Negative” Goals

  • Censor objectionable content (primarily sex and violence)
  • Protect kids from adult predators
  • Protect them from peer bullying
  • Stop them from spending money (in-app purchases)
  • Stop children from compromising computer security.

“Positive” Goals

  • Promote learning
  • Encourage healthy online relationships
  • Help kids become familiar and fluent with technology.
  • Getting Over Our Technology Hangups

Parents say a lot of funny things about their children when it comes to technology:

“My kid knows technology better than I do.”
“I had to ask my seven-year-old how to use the internet.”
“Kids today are so smart about computers. They’re on them all the time.”
Behind these is a question — a fear — sometimes spoken outloud and sometimes not:

“How can I protect my children online? They’re smarter than me! They can get around any blocks or filters I put on them. Why bother? What can I do? This defeatist attitude is not just unhelpful, it is dangerous. Thankfully, it is also built on faulty assumptions. Kids Aren’t Actually Smarter About Technology. There are, of course, exceptions — some kids are brilliant, and some of those brilliant kids get interested in computers. But most of our children are not going to grow up to be Computer Scientists and programmers. Just because a child is more fluent in using technology, doesn’t mean that child has a deep understanding of how that technology works. Think about the things you use every single day — your car, your refrigerator, the locks on your front door. Do you really know how this stuff works? Could you fix it if it broke?

Practically Unbeatable Security Is Possible. Even if your children are really good with computers — unless they are exceptionally bright and particularly knowledgeable — it is in fact possible to set up a safe computing environment that your children cannot bypass (at least not without you knowing).

How to Promote Child-Friendly Computer use

Promoting good and safe computer use is not as hard as you may think. We’ll discuss the main things you need to do here. Most people want a single app they can install — a child friendly browser or content filtering program that will make their computer safe. That is not enough. If you want to actually stop your children from easily circumventing any parental controls you put on your computer, you are going to have to block them from having administrative access. All computer systems today (Windows, Mac, and Linux) have the ability to set up separate Users. You should set up a special User login to your computer for your children to use, and password-protect the Administrator login. (And don’t write the password down. The kids will find it.) This lets you block your children from installing new applications that you didn’t approve — applications they could use to circumvent parental controls and content filters.

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