The Internet: Kids and Safety

The Internet

Since its inception, the Internet has been one of contemporary technologies most useful and used inventions. One would be hard-pressed to come across a person who does not use the World Wide Web on a daily basis. There are many ways in which the internet can be used: research, correspondence, shopping, reading and networking are a mere sample of the positive ways one can use the innovative technology. However, there are also negative ways in which the technology can be used and exploited as well: bullying, slander, research (depending on what is being researched and why; directions on “how to make a pipe-bomb” for example) and planting viruses, just to name a few. These negatives become a significant worry in regards to kids and what they are viewing online, when and how often, which causes parents to want to help them navigate the web while ensuring their safety.

Federal Government agencies have gotten involved in guaranteeing the safety of children while using the internet. This is one good indicator that barriers are being put in place to aid in keeping children from being exposed to illicit or dangerous content online. COPPA or the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, was created in the hopes that kids protection online would remain a priority for parents, teachers and authorities monitoring children’s internet use. Kids Health, however, also acknowledges that though kids are often partly to blame, especially as they approach teenage years, it is the existence of online predators and accessibility of mature and/or dangerous content that are the cause for most concern.

Thus, it falls mostly to the parents, guardians and teachers to closely monitor the minor’s online activity. Though there are issues that extend beyond internet use, particularly with children ages 13 to 18, like trust and freedom, parents need to be aware of the very real danger that some websites potentially pose to their children and not be afraid to intervene before it escalates to a dangerous place. Child Trends elaborates, though acknowledges that at this point research about children and internet use is limited: “there is widespread concern that children may be exposed to sexually explicit, violent, and other age-inappropriate content on the internet.” Although studies are often as inconclusive as there are many factors leaving room for error, the impact of such material often correlates with desensitization to violence, increased hostility and imitative behavior.

With the incredibly high number of internet users, a number that continues to grow each year, the concerns about kids and ensuring their safety while using the internet are very real. In fact the reality is that children are often granted unsupervised internet access at a very young age and though in some cases there is little need for parents to worry, in numerous others the child is left vulnerable to whatever it is the internet has to offer. Network World reports that the results of a Microsoft survey of 1,000 adults find that eight years old is the average age at which parents allow unsupervised internet use. Additionally, at least 94 percent of adults allow their child unsupervised access to at least one device allowing them use of email or social media networks.

Ensuring the safety of kids while they use computers and other social networking technology is going to continue to be a relevant issue. As more and more schools are granting access to the internet for research purposes, though filters can be enabled, potential danger is still imminent. Simply put, supervision by a parent, teacher, coach or other care-taker is imperative in the fight against the premature over-exposure of kids to inappropriate internet content.

By Heather Everett (Pomper)

Sources:

Child Trends

Pew Research

Kids Health

Network World

One Response to "The Internet: Kids and Safety"

  1. Marcus Gregory   August 8, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    I liked you article Heather. Thanks for this.

    Reply

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