Effortlessly finding conversation partners all over the world, sharing worries with them, goofing around or just chatting: No wonder social networks and chat rooms are so popular, especially with girls! Here are some tips on how to protect your child from unwanted contacts.
Keeping your child safe on the Internet
“14-year-old met her rapist in the chat room” – such and similar headlines give parents nightmares. And not entirely without reason: in public chats, children and teenagers are not infrequently exposed to sexual harassment. Nevertheless, a categorical ban makes little sense. After all, it would only tempt very chat-savvy children to log on secretly through friends. Instead, children should learn from the very beginning what is important when making contacts on the Internet. Children up to the age of twelve: Please only in moderated children’s chat rooms!
Even if your child may tell you otherwise: A separate account on Facebook is only allowed from the age of 13, and that’s a good thing. Instead, choose a moderated children’s chat room together with your child (for example, the chat room at www.seitenstark.de) that the child likes and agree on fixed times when the child is allowed to log in. A safe chat can be recognized, for example, by the presence of moderators who can be called with an emergency button, by the fact that all users are registered (no guest access!), and by the fact that disruptors can be muted with an ignore button. In addition, the child must also know that not every chat partner necessarily tells the truth. So: Always remain a little suspicious, especially if the other person asks questions about clothing, age, appearance, place of residence.
Teenagers over 13: Self-confidence protects!
At some point, children’s chat rooms are no longer enough; teenagers want to find their own contacts on the Net, mostly on Facebook and in public chat rooms. That’s why they need to know the most important safety rules inside out: Don’t believe everything! Do not disclose personal data or photos! Do not arrange a meeting, especially not without the company of an adult! Don’t be shy about informing the moderator and/or parents if a conversation becomes strange or unpleasant. Girls in particular need to know that they don’t have to remain polite, but that they can and must say no with self-confidence. Everything, but really everything about safe chatting, with brochures to download, link tips for safe chat rooms, safety cheat sheets, dedicated children’s and young people’s areas can be found at the net.
Use parental control Apps
This might feel not right at first but if you really want to keep your kids safe on the net, you need to observe their activity on social media and which sites they open. To do this you can use the app FamilyTime for example. A VPN can also protect the privacy.
How long are children allowed to surf the Internet?
Have you checked your e-mails today? Online banking still has to be done. The Internet is a daily companion for adults, and for children and young people as well. It is therefore all the more important to control the Internet consumption of young surfers and to monitor it to a certain extent. Unfortunately, it’s not just encyclopedia pages, e-mails from friends or harmless learning programs that are on the Internet. Many parents are afraid that their children will come into contact with violence, pornography or pedophiles through the Internet.
Is there a time limit for the Internet?
A solution to the problem is not bans that prevent children from accessing the Internet. Even elementary school children should have access to the Internet. The key here, however, is that parents also guide their children in their use of the Internet and pass on a certain level of competence to them. Responsible use of the Internet protects children more than bans.
Children of elementary school age should spend no more than 60 minutes a day in front of the computer or on the Internet. Parents can control this as far as possible with various security settings and filters on the computer. It is also possible to make arrangements for this directly with the provider. The access to the almost inexhaustible Internet is still limited for the children by various security programs on the computer. Dubious sites are blocked, even keywords defined by the parents themselves block access to certain sites. Unfortunately, these programs only make sense for younger children; youngsters in particular quickly learn to circumvent these barriers.
Children under the age of three only imitate their parents on the computer, and they should never spend more than five minutes playing. Four- to six-year-olds can spend 20 to 30 minutes in front of the screen playing educational games on the Internet with software suitable for children. From the age of ten, children can spend up to 90 minutes on the Internet. For schoolwork and research, using the Internet has already become a must, even for students of this age.
What to watch out for?
It is precisely at this age that children begin to disclose information about themselves on the Internet. Therefore, give your child precise instructions about what information they are allowed to share on the Internet and what they are not. This can be particularly dangerous when it comes to social networking on various forum sites. Young people from the age of about 14 spend an average of 90 minutes in front of the computer, sometimes an entire afternoon with friends. This is not unusual. Parents should only worry if social life is restricted by the computer and free time is spent only at home. Lack of exercise and poor nutrition are just two of the many drawbacks that too much time in front of the PC can cause. An hourly workload per week of 8 to 10 hours of screen time for self-scheduling is appropriate.
In order to be prepared for the topic of children and the Internet, you as parents must not be afraid to deal with these topics and also to open up completely new areas of knowledge. Even if many things seem strange and incomprehensible to you at first, you can only pass on responsible use to your children if you have mastered it yourself.