Are your children safe on the Internet?

A six-year-old boy in Tanzania has become an over-night celebrity for being the youngest ever to create a computer application for children. It is amazing what incredibly young minds can do with technologies as each day goes by. Most parents cannot believe how fast their children catch up and outsmart them in maximising technology use, most especially, the smartphones. However, too much exposure could easily be a good or bad thing depending on the level of supervision they are given on a day-to-day basis.

Sometimes, we underestimate the young brains which are growing and gulping in each and every thing they see.  The more exposure they get, the faster they learn, and their minds get tuned to the fast pace of technologies.

Like mentioned above, there is a flipside to this as well. A father saw his six-year-old son shift uncomfortably from him to another chair. The child was downloading his favourite song on the smartphone. His father was well aware and not in the least bothered. But as he stood up to close the curtains, he happened to glance at the images on the smartphone, and to his horror, saw the horrible video of the song that his son was viewing. No wonder the boy had shifted from his side!

Thank God the dad was alert on that day. But there are many days that parents are not around to monitor their children and terrible things have happened, especially to those that have free internet at their disposal. Many parents, mostly in the west, have lived to bitterly regret this exposure that sometimes had fatal outcomes. But Internet is alive and vibrant in Rwanda as well and we cannot take risks.

After a little research, you can find many tips on how to protect the growing mind. A few helpful ones are on kids and they are all important:

1) Consistently having an open conversation with your kids about safe browsing and computer use. With freedom comes responsibility.

2) No search filtering software or tool is perfect or can replace parental supervision.

3) A good rule of thumb is to not allow Internet use when a child is home alone without proper supervision.

4) If your child is searching for videos on YouTube, learn how you can activate your YouTube parental controls.

5) Do not allow file sharing programmes to be installed on your computer. Only use safe and secure music download programmes from trusted sources on the Internet.

6) Educate yourself on social media safety and have open discussions with teens about present dangers and long term effects of inappropriate conduct, including posting pictures online.

7) Keep your computer in an open area. If your computer is in a home office, make a rule that doors are always left open when online.

8) It’s not a good idea to allow computers or laptops in your kids’ bedrooms, even while using the free Internet filter, unless they are close to the main areas of the house with doors left open, like kitchens, living rooms.

9) Educate yourself on how to stay safe when using social media. Read about social media safety for parents/teens.

10) Do not allow Internet use when you’ve gone to bed no matter which safety engines you are using.

11) Consider installing parental control software to give you completed control over how kids access internet.  Ensure your children’s safety!