By Evan Fischer
Sponsored Guest Contributor
If there’s one thing that’s totally unavoidable, it’s the fact that we live in the internet age. Kids don’t go to the library to do their research for school; they go online. When it comes to communicating with their teachers between classes and after school, oftentimes they text or send emails. And when it comes to how they entertain themselves? Well, let’s just say that they bring new meaning to “social media”. To think that a child shouldn’t be on the internet is not only unrealistic, but also a pretty inaccurate resolve. For them to thrive in the culture that they exist in, being in cyberspace is a must.
However, all things must be done in balance and there are some real benefits to monitoring how much time that your child spends online. If you’re curious about what some of the pros and cons are as it relates to supervising your child’s internet usage, be sure to keep reading.
Pro: You Can See What They’re Doing Online
OK, we’ve already discussed some of the benefits to children being online such as doing research for school and even catching up with their friends, but there is a lot more happening in the World Wide Web than history facts and Facebook accounts. Porn, adult chat rooms, and dating websites are also things that don’t require a whole lot of information in order to gain access to them. Therefore, it’s a good idea that you check their browser history and perhaps even set up software filters so that you can know if they are doing more than their homework or socializing with people their own age.
Con: It Can Cause Them to Sneak Around
Sometimes, when parents monitor their children’s activities, they do so without discussing the reasons why with them first. Although you don’t necessarily need their “permission” to check out what they are doing while living in your home, talking to them does send the message of mutual respect and established boundaries. If your child comes home and sees you on their computer, this, more times than not, only makes them uncomfortable (even if they aren’t doing anything inappropriate) and sends the message that you don’t trust them. If they really believe that, they may start to sneak around and hide things from you and that’s definitely not an ideal climate for raising an adolescent. Mutual respect and understanding is key.
Pro: They Can Live Outside of the Internet World
When it comes to cell phones and laptops, thanks to Facebook, Twitter and the dozens of apps in the world of mobile phones, kids can easily spend hours on end just staring at their monitors and screens. This isn’t healthy for a lot of reasons. For one thing, it can affect the way that they communicate with people in their house (for instance, not sitting at the table for dinner because they would rather talk on their phone). Another is that they oftentimes will avoid participating in sports and outdoor activities that can provide them with the exercise that they need. Another is that they may start using something like a YouTube video converter to send videos back and forth to people who may seem like “friends”, but they don’t know beyond a couple of exchanged keystrokes. If you’re monitoring the amount of time that they spend, you can help to keep them focused on the fact that there is life outside of the internet.
Con: It Can Make You Paranoid
If you watch enough news stories about pedophilia and cyber-bullying, you might start to feel like everything about the internet is bad and that’s simply not true. With just about everything in life, there are benefits as well as risks, so don’t spend so much time thinking that something bad could happen that you don’t allow your child the joys and benefits of getting online. If you set hours and some firm guidelines, the internet doesn’t have to be your enemy. It can actually be beneficial for both of you. And you never know, if you make it a point to share time with your child while they’re online by playing a game with them or helping them with their homework, they might even end up teaching you a thing or two.
That’s not a “con”, by the way. That’s a big pro!
If you’d like to learn more, visit Internet Safety 101, a web site dedicated to helping children stay safe online.
About the Author:
Evan Fischer is a freelance writer and part-time student at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California. He enjoys writing about the latest tech news for a variety of companies and discovering new and innovative gadgets.