The internet has become an integral part of our daily lives. For instance, India had 755 million internet users in 2021 , and many of these internet users are kids. The problem, however, is that not all parents understand how important it is to supervise the internet usage of their kids. Due to the fact that many younger kids don’t understand the risks associated with visiting unfamiliar websites or sharing personal information, they can be vulnerable to dangers such as identity theft and cyberbullying. Fortunately, there are several simple ways you can help protect your children from these dangers while still allowing them to enjoy using the internet for productive activities such as education and entertainment.
The current landscape
It’s no secret that today’s youth has an increasingly robust relationship with technology, but what is less understood is how much time young people spend on non-school-related computer tasks like gaming and social media. According to a recent study by Common Sense Media (CSM), 84% of teens have their own mobile phone or tablet, while 74% of tweens have their own device.
How much time your kid should spend online
There are few hard and fast rules about how much time your child should spend online. Just like anything else, moderation is key. If you believe that your child’s participation in social media is having a negative impact on their social skills, mood or academics, it’s probably time to step back a bit. Whether that means they’re not allowed on social media after 9 p.m. or not allowed to play any games on their mobile devices during weekdays when they should be studying, depends on you and your family. Whatever you do decide on, make sure you discuss these new boundaries with your child so there are no misunderstandings about what’s expected of them.
What you should know
It’s never too early to start talking to your child about technology and its proper uses. The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) recommends that all screen time for children under 2 be avoided altogether, and that all screen time for children 2 to 5 years old be limited to a maximum of 1 hour per day. The AAP notes that no studies have examined what kind of impact technology may have on very young children, but it is generally believed that a person can become addicted to any activity or substance—including television, movies, or games. Encourage fun activities like reading books and playing outside as much as possible. Also keep an eye out for red flags—symptoms include becoming withdrawn from family members and friends and losing interest in other activities.
Ways to keep your child safe online
Every day, your child will be faced with new challenges—it’s up to you to help them find their way through a world that will seem scary at times. And since it’s impossible to keep your children sheltered from everything out there, make sure you instil good online habits right from the start by arming yourself with information on protecting them both digitally and physically. There are many ways you can do so: Make sure they know who they’re speaking with online. Remind them not to share personal information like their name, address or phone number. Teach them about unwanted behaviour online; that includes encouraging friends and reminding them what is and isn’t appropriate behaviour on Facebook and other social networks.
Dos and Don’ts
When introducing young children to computers, there are some basic dos and don’ts that will help you avoid potentially dangerous situations. Every family is different and as parents you have to make judgement calls about what our individual children can handle. For example, does your 3-year-old have a short attention span? Maybe he or she doesn’t have time for an hour of Googling bears playing piano before bedtime (our highly scientific criteria for evaluating search quality). But if your 7-year-old can stay on task during an educational maths game, then you can work on the screen time together.