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Setting Internet Boundaries for Kids

The internet is a wonderful tool. At the touch of one’s fingertips is a whole world of experiences and knowledge. But also at the touch of ones fingertips too lies a world of pornography, filth and violence.

At an age where children grow up in a world where access to internet is a given, precautions must be taken by parents to ensure their safety. It is best that the following tips be carried out at home right from the start when children are still young and are beginning to be exposed to the internet. Implementing them when the children are older is more difficult.

The following are some safety tips:

1) Children need to be told that access to internet is a privilege, not a right
Being a privilege means that children must know they have access to the internet because their parents allow it, not because it is their right. Children need to realize that there are certain conditions they need to comply with as laid down by their parents in order to continue to enjoy this privilege. If children are not told that it is a privilege, then the danger lies in them taking for granted that access to the internet is a right. Trying to forbid them from using the internet will then become a battle.

2) Place the computer which they are using to access the internet in a public place i.e. the living room.
When the computer is used in a public place such as the living room, then it is easy for a parent to monitor the child’s usage. Allowing them to use it in the privacy of their bedroom makes it much harder to monitor.

3) Parents must be added as friends on Facebook
Assuming the child is old enough to have a Facebook account, parents must insist that they be added as friends to the child’s Facebook account. That way the parent can see and monitor what the child is pasting on the Facebook, and whether the child is being unwise in who he/she is adding as friends on its Facebook.

4) Warn them of the dangerous people out there
Children who use Facebook or chatrooms need to be forewarned that there are people out there posing as children but with evil intentions. They need to be told that they should only become friendly with people over the internet with individuals that they actually know in person.

5) Provide wholesome alternatives
Children need to be occupied. Rather than allowing them to while all their time away on the internet, inculcate within them an interest in other wholesome activities such as arts and crafts, hobbies, outdoor sports etc. That way, when a child is feeling bored, the internet does not always have to be the only option for entertainment.

6) Install software guards
Install in the computers being used, internet protection software such as Net Nanny, Action Alert etc. which help to keep the kids safe whilst they are surfing the internet.
Using the internet can be like crossing the street. With proper instruction, a child in time will be able to do it safely.