Happy 2014 Recycled Moms and other visitors. As I gaze into the upcoming year, trying in vain to know where it will lead us, I do know some things remain the same. One of those is danger to our kids from the internet and wicked people who use it to touch our beautiful children. I have put together a guideline for us all to use as a tool in protecting our beloved little ones. Just last week I was made aware that a little boy I personally know has been accessing pornography. Therefore, it does happen and affects the hearts, minds and spirits of everyone who loves the children who have fallen into danger.
Toddlers are routinely given tablets to play with and to use. I see them almost daily with these expensive gadgets. With that fact in mind, I have included very young children in this list of rules and options to consider.
Children under Five
Parents or caregivers should always be present and active when children are using computers, tablets and phones. At this age, children accept anything and everything. They do not have the mental or emotional skills to consider both sides of an issue or image and may become frightened by something fictional that is very real to them. They will click on anything and can easily be exposed to inappropriate content.
Children Five to Seven
Kids are smart and today’s children have grown up with technology. They are used to using computers, manipulating screens and gadgets yet are very naïve and innocent. They are obedient toward adults and will willingly provide any information asked of them including home address, telephone numbers and personal names. They also become easily frightened by media images and content that is access by clicking on hyperlinks and opening new windows.
Parents should teach children this age about privacy, what to share and when to run away and get help. Access to email, social media, message boards and the like should be disabled with strict parental controls in place.
Eight to Ten
These kids love anything video related. They play video games, are greatly influenced by celebrities or other people considered cool or heroic. This leaves them vulnerable to predators that are adept at pretending to be a slightly older kid who seems to have it all and who befriends them. Parents should make sure all computers and online devices are only used in family rooms where activity can be monitored and visible to any observer. Parental control filters should be in place and parental supervision constant. Children this age should not have personal email addresses or any online presence. A parent’s email should be used to register for games, etc.
Eleven to Thirteen
Kids this age think they are wise in the ways of the world. They are usually into music, download videos and use the internet to help with schoolwork. They are beginning to get curious about the changes in their bodies, which leaves them vulnerable to predators and to pornographers. They love to be independent yet greatly rely on their friends and want to be doing what others are into since that seems to be cool and popular. This is also an age where bullying frequently occurs because kids desire to be accepted and become quite anxious about any perceptible differences.
Parents should insist that computers remain in common rooms and set parental controls on all devices. Check the browsing history; do not allow chat room use or profiles on social media sites.
Up to Eighteen
These young teens seem so grownup yet are still emotionally and mentally young, incapable of living an unsupervised life. They should be taught safe online skills and all devices still should only be used in open, common areas of the home. They might stumble onto pornography or other adult content sites simply by exploring the internet for off color jokes or other seemingly safe places. They must be taught morals, ethics and financial responsibility. It does not come natural to most young people as their brains are still developing.
Parents must be very involved in the lives of teenagers. House rules, family guidelines and expectations should be clearly defined and adhered to by everyone so there are no surprises. Approve all email or telephone contacts and monitor texts daily. This is not invasion of privacy but parental protection.
When parents and caregivers set rules and those are enforced, it leaves less opportunity for kids to fall into moral or physical danger. An involved parent is one who loves his/her child enough to keep danger far, far away.