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How to Keep Your Child Safe on the Internet?

As per the Kaiser Family Foundation, the 8-18-year-olds typically spend about 7.5 hours using the Internet. One thing that they (might) should be doing more of is sleeping!

Media usage is mostly about watching television, playing video games, and using social media. While digital literacy is crucial in our day and age. Technological advancements create more difficulties for parents trying to balance screen time and family/friend time.

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Alongside being aware of the health risks associated with prolonged screen time, parents are also trying to protect their children from inappropriate content and instructing them on how to deal with cyberbullying. 

In the 2018 Google study of teachers and parents, educators reported that cyberbullying was their biggest problem in the classroom. Likewise, parents cited it as their fourth top concern at home. Since the learning environment of classrooms is shifting into an online environment with COVID-19, the demands on parents are changing.

Internet

Health Impacts

MedlinePlus, a U.S. National Library of Medicine magazine, cautions against giving children too much time in front of screens can cause insomnia, attention deficit, and weight growth. But that’s not all there is to it. It is also known as the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). 

It is also an opinion that excessive screen time can lead to depression and bad school performances, low self-image, and lack of understanding of different ways to unwind and have fun. A few doctors suggest that kids glued to their devices all day may be experiencing an increased risk of having behavioral problems.

Does every screen-time activity impact all children in the same way? No. One of the primary aspects to take into account is age. The study found that in the study that looked at children who spent more time on screens between the ages of two and three years later scored poorly on developmental tests by five. 

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Children from the United Kingdom between 9 and 10 years old, who had at minimum three hours of screen time each day, have more insulin resistance than their peers who have only one hour of screen time per day. Insulin resistance can cause diabetes.

In the case of teenagers, one of their main concerns is mental health. Children aged 13-18 are more likely to have an increase in mental health concerns such as suicidal or depression-related thoughts due to the time they spend using new media (including surfing the web). 

As teens attain an amount of autonomy as they grow older, their media habits can result in anything from poor eating habits and addiction to sleeplessness due to their late-night browsing.

Social Media

The world of social media is constantly changing, making it difficult to keep up with the latest websites can be confusing for parents raised in the pre-internet world. 

Even online-savvy adults might struggle to figure out the appeal of specific websites or comprehend the risks of having their children’s participation on apps for social media. Here’s a quick guide to help you understand what social media websites are suitable for children.

TikTok

TikTok lets users make short videos that are sometimes serious but usually humorous and share them with their friends. It’s not the ideal platform for someone less than 13 (the lowest age it allows users to sign for) because there’s usually content that is considered mature. The nature of the application allows you to search for and share content shared by strangers. A child’s blog post can be shared and viral without even knowing it. This app is also subject to review by the U.S. government.

Instagram

Instagram is a photo-sharing app that is the most popular with people aged 25 to 34. The application allows you to safeguard the privacy of your images. Children who allow scrolling through a set of accounts selected by parents periodically are most likely safe if they are under the supervision of a parent.

Facebook

In declining popularity among younger users, Facebook content runs various fun games and community groups to more controversial content. Like most social media platforms, Facebook is more appropriate for teenagers who make more informed choices regarding interacting with and letting their friends see their pages.

Twitter

The standard variant of Twitter is best left to adult users. But, with Wee Tweet: Twitter for Kids, parents can manage their child’s Twitter account via the Twitter website and choose whom their child can follow.

Parental Controls

One of the most effective ways parents can combat security concerns associated with screens is parental control. The settings allow you to control which websites your children are allowed to access, which shows they can view and, sometimes, how long they can be on the internet. Alongside a thoughtful discussion with children about what is a red flag online, the setting of these controls will give parents some security.

Apple Parental Controls

For Apple devices, like iPads, parents can block App Store purchases, restrict Siri web searches, stop explicit content from showing, and place privacy restrictions.

Google Parental Controls

Parents who permit their children to play games or watch videos through Google Play can also set the parameters. This includes deciding on the best content rating for kids, limiting the kinds of books available to purchase, and restricting the number of TVs and movies accessible for streaming. 

Netflix Parental Controls

Netflix lets parents create profiles with specific maturing ratings, which means that children can only access the content appropriate to their age. Adult profiles associated with an account may be protected with a password to block access. 

Controls for TV Providers

The television provider may permit you to establish parental controls related to various aspects of watching. Common parental controls include:

  • Rating limitations and a PIN for more mature content.
  • A hidden adult content option is purchasing controls.
  • Time/day limitations.

Here’s where you can learn control procedures for some of the top television networks:

  • Spectrum
  • AT&T
  • Verizon
  • Cox
  • Xfinity
  • DISH

Blocking websites

Not sure if the settings on your device are sufficient to ensure your kids stay secure online? Parents may also choose to restrict certain websites so that children aren’t entangled in adult-themed chat rooms, watch videos that they shouldn’t watch, or even provide credit card numbers for purchases. Website blockers allow an administrator (the parent) to define parameters and block certain websites.

Many website blockers designed to be productive can be used to block adult content. Other blockers are specifically targeted at parental control. For instance, Google’s Block Site extension has a password-protected feature and can block both distracting websites for adults and inappropriate websites for children. For Mac, The Freedom app can serve the same purpose. You can create viewing schedules and block specific websites and apps (though it may cost a fee).

Other popular blockers for websites comprise Net Nanny, Bark, and Qustodio. It is important to change passwords for the blockers regularly and avoid using an existing password on other devices. This helps children to bypass security precautions.

Scheduling Internet Time

Setting a time limit and a schedule for screen time at an early age helps children build a healthy connection with their devices. It can prevent a negative attitude towards screens from forming at an early age (“I require my phone for sleep,” “I need to be able to access my phone’s messages right away,” “I can’t concentrate with a TV playing at night”). 

The average person checks their smartphone every day 58 times (on top of using TVs and computers), making screen-related addiction something to be avoided before it starts.

Parents should consider the specific age and requirements of their children in establishing the rules for screens in the home. Here are a few suggestions that are provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization:

Health Organization

  • Toddlers between 24 and 36 months old should be allowed very little or any screen time because it can slow their development. They require interaction with people and creative interactions. Screen time should have a parent present and educational in the sense of education.
  • Children aged 3 to 5 can enjoy up to one hour of screens every day. Animations that teach or have relatable life-related interactions are particularly meaningful for children of this age.
  • Between 6 and 10 from 6 to 10, from 6 to 10, scheduled screen time gets the green light of experts. At this point, children have a little more freedom in choosing their content and knowing what they prefer. Be sure that screen time doesn’t hinder sleep.
  • After 11 years old, the maximum amount of screen time suggest as a customary practice.

Be aware that certain days will be more prone to screens than other days. The primary goal is to establish an environment that balance for children. A rainy day may require more than normal screen time. But that’s okay as long as outdoor activities. And creative play also incorporate into the family’s daily routine.

How to Educate Your Children

Beyond setting time limits and blocking websites altogether, the most effective way for parents to help their children is to teach their children about the different kinds of fraud and thefts that can happen on the internet. 

Based on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The following are the most popular ways teens and children share too much. Or compromise online: phishing scams, peer-to-peer file sharing, and downloading harmful apps. 

Although federal monitoring of scams that occur annually. and online fraud focuses on those who are older. Than 18, we are aware that Americans who are between 18-34 age group have a higher risk of scam. Than their older counterparts (almost four percent of scam victims are in this age range). Since most scams have moved from phone scams to emails and online scams, Internet users are becoming more susceptible to scams.

Another concern is sharing personal data. Scams on the internet that target youth to collect personal information include false scholarships, modeling, acting frauds, and fraudulent summer work offers. 

Scams

The scams in question require young users on the internet. It is to send details about themselves to evaluate for the job and other positions. The information could use to recover their identities.

Discuss with your children the most common frauds. Credit agencies and government agencies. Such as the FTC generally release the top scams of the moment at least once per year. 

Although young people might be tech-savvy, their lack of experience makes them susceptible to fraudsters. And other criminal actions from strangers on the internet. Tell stories of the worst-case scenarios to highlight possible dangers of oversharing or clicking links with unknown names.

The digital age poses new problems. Strangers can now access youngsters every day, at any time. Even when they are in their homes and locked out of the door. The excessive amount of screen time can hurt the development of children and their ability to pay attention. 

The best strategy that parents can implement is to establish an internet-friendly schedule. Follow it, and incorporate outside and group activities in their weekly activities.

Being outside and making friends who are IRL (in actual life) can be a boon that just being online won’t. If in doubt, go to reliable sources such as Common Sense Media. It is for suggestions on the top streaming films and shows according to age and physician. If symptoms of internet dependence occur.

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