Children of all ages are spending more and more time on devices. Online schoolwork
and staying connected to family members are positive ways children can use
technology. And while video games and social media apps are ways for children to
connect and “play” with friends, these platforms are also a breeding ground for
inappropriate content and predators. So, in the same way parents educate their
children on awareness and danger in the physical world, danger in the virtual world
should also be addressed.
There is a multitude of apps and software that can block certain content and help
parents monitor their children’s online activities. Still, nothing compares to parents being
attuned to what their children are doing virtually. Keeping an open, age-appropriate
dialogue about this can help children make smart online choices and stay safe. By
applying the SKILLZ program approach to child development and the Parent SKILLZ
ideas, parents can tackle this subject in the most effective way possible.
Intellectual: Children are smart, and even the youngest know how to navigate social
media and the internet, often, better than their parents. And while this can be useful in
some ways, it can create a pathway to inappropriate content and dangerous
situations. By connecting one-on-one with their children, parents can educate them on
the potential risks of varying online activities. This will help children to be more cautious
and smarter about their virtual choices.
Social: The virtual world has been a means for people of all ages to connect with
friends and even make new ones. Children frequently use social media apps and online
games to spend time with their friends and for the past few months, this was one of the
only ways they could stay connected. However, the increased use of this medium has
created more chances for predators to interact with children. To help them avoid any
threats to their own well-being, parents should prompt children to make appropriate
social choices online and only engage with those they know.
Emotional: While the world wide web has a lot of useful information, it also has a lot of
negative material that can be emotionally overwhelming. Children often come across
this content when friends post about it or simply when scrolling through various social
media apps. This constant flood of negativity can be traumatizing, especially when
parents aren’t attuned to how this is affecting their children. Therefore, it’s essential that
parents are in tune with any significant changes in their child’s emotions and
continuously check in with them.
Physical: When we think of online activities, we are often not concerned with our
physical safety. Children, especially, don’t understand the physical danger that can
come from information and photos they share online. From posting a selfie from their
current location to their neighborhood entrance sign being visible in the background of
a picture, predators can gain lots of information from seemingly innocent posts.
Therefore, parents must be consistent in monitoring their children’s posts to ensure that
any revealing information about their physical location is hidden.
As the requirements for the use of technology continue to grow, parents must be even
more diligent in monitoring their children’s online activities. In the same way that there
are threats in a community, there are also dangers online. But when parents keep their
children’s development and safety top of mind by being proactive with education and
supervision, the benefits that come with the use of technology will outweigh any fears.