How to protect your kids from the dangers of the internet

How to protect your kids from the dangers of the internet

For kids, navigating through an infinite world of possibilities with just one touch, without a doubt, is fantastic. After all, in the palm of our hand, we can have quick and easy access to news, entertainment, business, and even reconnect with old friends. It’s fascinating, don’t you agree? And if adults are delighted, imagine how much interest it arouses in the interest of children who, despite being dazzled by so many stimuli, still observe their parents and carers using smartphones and tablets daily, right?

According to a report published in December 2017 by Unicef ​​(United Nations Children’s Fund), one in three internet users worldwide is a child. This study, called The State of the World’s Children 2017: Children in a Digital World, identified technology’s risks, and opportunities.

According to the organisation, mobile devices allow kids of boys and girls to enter the online world in a less supervised way, and as such, the digital world becomes even more dangerous for children.

“In a digital world, our dual challenge is how to mitigate the harms while maximising the benefits of the internet for every child and teenager,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

There is no denying that technology is irreversible in our lives and that, yes, it brings countless benefits. However, research shows that the internet increases children’s vulnerability to numerous harms, such as misuse of private information, access to age-inappropriate content, abuse, trafficking, exploitation, and cyberbullying.

With so many risks, you must be wondering: Is it possible to protect children or kids from the “door to the world,” which is the Internet? Digital security is the key to answering this question.

Is the digital world harmful to your child?

Every parent knows what a child needs to play with. After all, expressions, feelings, and learning are developed through play. Therefore, it is fundamental for the little ones’ cognitive, social, and intellectual development.

However, even knowing these benefits that free play provides, who have never let their children entertain themselves for some time on their smartphone to prepare dinner or even to finish that very important report to present at the work meeting? Not to mention that, sometimes, the little ones beg to play just a little longer on the tablet, and with so much insistence, they get what they want.

These scenes are common in most homes, and anyone with a small child knows that digital technology is “a hand on the wheel” at certain times. But while we seem to be gaining a few minutes of peace of mind, what consequences will there be if internet use becomes indiscriminate?

Kids Minimum age

Due to the extensive harm that cell phones, tablets, and computers can cause in children’s lives, Cristina points out that research indicates that access to screens should only be allowed at 12. However, this is a distant reality; we all know how difficult it is to keep little ones away from the internet for so many years.

“There is not much to control the entry of technology into children’s lives because parents promote tech initiation at an early age. We can cite the videos of Galinha Pintadinha as an example, among others. In this sense, guidance is essential. We do not recommend that a child have unlimited YouTube access without supervision. In addition, it is also important to talk to other parents because the neighbour may not be as aware of the dangers that the internet poses to a child. In this way, the more parents share with the community, the better”, he points out.

How do we limit what children can access on mobile devices?

Safety in the digital environment is extremely necessary to keep children from the dangers of the internet. One of the measures parents and carers should adopt is monitoring what the little ones are accessing. “One difficulty that I have noticed in parents is monitoring. Usually, they see themselves as invaders, while, in fact, they have a duty to watch over the safety of their children. Dictating the rules also becomes difficult, but persistence and patience are very important, as we can save them from unexpected and dangerous situations. Only in this way will technology bring benefits and mitigate risks,”  ponders Cristina.

According to the legal advisor, those responsible should always talk to kids and explain what risks they are exposed to when using digital technology. “For younger children, always explain the risks of exposing photos of the house and routine, for example. For older children, in addition to photos, it is important to show with facts the risks they are exposed to when interacting with strangers. Parents should always advise children that all freedom comes with responsibility, showing that there are always limits to everything and that there is no invasion of privacy regarding kids’s safety,” she emphasises.

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