Yesterday, one of my student’s parent calls me and ask me whether she let her 15-year-old kid to have a cell phone or not because what she believes that kids usually invest all of their spare time on a cell phone. Similarly, she also fears that what if her kid got access to some inappropriate content like pornography or start participating in hateful content or messages. What that parent shared is a fear of every parent, especially in today’s virtual era where kids have easy access to thousands of internet websites. Kids are now using tablets, and smart gadgets more commonly as schools are going virtual due to pandemic. However, what parents should do to keep their kids safe and secure? Do they start surveilling every website they visit and breach their sense of privacy and trust?
Most parents face challenges like whether they give their children digital freedom and define the boundaries of that freedom. However, the truth is you can’t monitor all of your child’s virtual activities without letting them know that they are being watched. However, doing this will not only limit kid’s access to the internet, and it could also affect their ability to learn and develop. Following are some measures that parents could take without effecting their child’s integrity and learning development.
Digital Monitoring Apps and Software Control for Parents
To protect kids from cyberbullying, harmful digital behaviour, and exposure to adult content like pornography, parents can use parental control and monitoring applications to help them set up systems that are less offensive to their kids.
A well-known computer magazine publishing website PC Mag have listed top 10 best parental control software for 2020. According to Rubenking and Moore of PC Mag, these parental control services can help parents to manage the ever-increasing number of devices that their kids use. Moreover, these computer applications can also block unwanted web content, limit screen time, restrict the use of risky applications, and more. Following is the list for these computer apps.
- Kaspersky Safe Kids
- Norton Family Premier
- Circle Home Plus
- Clean Router
- OpenDNS Home VIP
- Net Nanny
- McAfee Safe Family
The cost of these apps is ranging from as low as $8/month up to $40 depending on your usability. However, I recommended that parents should communicate with their kids before implementing any of these options, as it is essential for them to feel that their parents respect their privacy.
Try to Connect with Your Child
According to Nancy J. Kislin, a therapist and an educator, today’s world demand that parents talk to their children about sex and sexuality, harmful online content, sexting and hate speech. They should speak in a way that honours their children privacy and trust, promotes self-respect and respects other’s right to choose what is right for them. Following are some of the pointers for parents to have a lead in communicating with their child
Source: Psychology Today
- Get curious. Ask your children what are they viewing, where are they viewing it, and how they feel when they engage with it.
- Open up lines of communication with your children, even if it is uncomfortable and embarrassing. Think of this as yet another opportunity for your children to help you learn and grow.
- Set restrictions on technology, such as that all devices must be out of the room during sleep hours. Nothing good happens when teens are FaceTiming at 3 a.m. in the dark.
- Talk to your kids about self-respect and respecting others. This isn’t a one-time conversation. Roleplay with your teens on what to say or do in different scenarios, such as how to respond when a person says, “I think you are hot, I want to hug you,” “I won’t talk to you anymore if you don’t do this with me,” or “It’s just us, no one else will see it.”
- Don’t be afraid to show your fear and passion to your children. Share personal stories of how you felt when someone made an inappropriate comment. Illustrate for them why it is never okay for women or men to be objectified.
- Don’t threaten or point your finger. Acknowledge that it is a difficult topic to talk about. Share a story or two about what it was like for you when you were their age. Talking about sexual content must include a discussion about consent, respecting another person, and having self-respect. Do your homework. Share with them what you know about TikTok videos that joke about rape. Help teach them that these types of jokes aggravate rape culture and sexual abuse.
I hope and believe the above anecdotes might help you guys setting up goals to secure your kid’s virtual environment. However, there are more you can do, help your child learn to be open, honest, and transparent with you by having a comfortable non-aggressive short-talks on topics like pornography, sexting, etc. These talks will allow them to become more vigilant while engaging in such web content.