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Parenting Guide for Safe Usage of Cyberspace by Children

by Noreen Sarai (Mrs)
03 Nov 2014 at 11:24hrs | Views

Previous decades a dog would be termed as man's best friend, but in this decade the internet has become man's best friend. This has seen its usage increasing on a daily basis. This new change in technology is not only affecting the adults per say but also their children.

Few years back children would be seen roaming around streets playing outside games after school, but these days it's rare to even find the child outside his or her home. Where are these children? One can only find then inside the house, on a computer browsing over the internet.

This new style of activities has seen parents worried about the time spent on the computer and the content being viewed. Unplugging them is like taking a fish outside its pond. Our children need to become Internet literate in order to hold jobs, succeed in school, or attend college. Denying them access is denying them the basic tools they need to succeed.

The best approach in trying to stabilize the situation is for parents to try as much as possible to take control on how their children use the internet. Multichoice has taken this step in providing parental control facility that's aiding parents in restricting the films viewed by their children on DSTV. This approach has proved to be quite effective in terms television viewing.

The same stance can be taken by parents in terms of internet browsing. The following basic guides, once implemented can be quite effective.

Parents should encourage their children to:

i. Never give out identifying information to unknown people or sites. These include phone number, address, school name, passwords, etc.

ii. Never respond to messages that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, or threatening. Just ignore them!

iii. Remember that people online may not be who they seem; hence extra care is needed when chatting over the internet.

iv. Tell them on anything which makes them uncomfortable when using internet..

v. Never agree to meet someone they met online, unless the parent accompany them

vi. Use safe websites and safe search engines.

Do's and Don'ts for parents

i. Keep the computer in an open, visible area- not a bedroom or office as this can become a hide away for children.

ii. Find time to browse over the internet with your children. Find out about the sites they like and also teach them about sites that are harmful to them.

iii. Install software that set daily Internet time limits. You may want to only allow Internet use when a parent is at home.

iv. Let children know that they will not be punished for accidentally accessing inappropriate sites. Strongly encourage them to always come to you if they find something on the Internet that makes them uncomfortable. Along these lines, don't be too quick to blame or threaten privileges. This encourages the children to open about the content they view over the internet.

v. Don't use the Internet as an electronic babysitter. This definitely encourages too much freedom when browsing via the internet.

vi. Teach children that things are not free hence they should not accept anything for free over the Internet: whether it is from a contest, pop-up, e-mail or a "friend" they met online. It's important for them to never click on these items as most of them come with harmful payload viruses.

vii. Depending on their age, you may want to require children to give you their username and password for their e-mail account or social networks accounts.

viii. If your child knows more about the Internet than you do, encourage them to teach you how to use the sites they like.

Noreen Sarai (Mrs) is a Lecturer – Information Security & Assurance Department (Harare Institute of Technology) BSc (HONS) Computer Science, MSU, Zimbabwe: Msc Computer Science, UZ, Zimbabwe

Source - Noreen Sarai
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