Parents in Central New Jersey, as well as parents all over the country, are discovering that the most dangerous threat to children’s security is the Internet. Children live in an online world parents don’t understand. Every day kids could experience online threats, and most parents don’t realize it. Parents are quick to act, when it comes to fastening seat belts, making sure children wear a bicycle helmet. But when it comes to minimizing children’s exposure to social media sites and other online sites, parents drop the ball, big time.
The Internet is a wonderful tool for research projects, school reports, and communicating with teachers and other kids, but the freedom to access the Internet poses a safety hazard. An online search for a basic word like Legos may be mistyped, and a website about legs pops up instead. That site might contain other parts of the body that are x-rated. Parents must talk to their kids about Internet use. And parents should be aware of what the kids see and hear when they are online. That means extra work for some parents, but most parents accept the responsibility.
There is a federal law called the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and that law stops anyone from getting a child’s information without a parent’s approval. The COPPA law helps protect kids under the age of 13. But even though the law helps, the best way to protect children is to be a parent and lovingly monitor online use.
Being a 21st-century parent is a huge responsibility. Children today experience a plethora of situations, that could jeopardize their safety. Even though kids are more aware, and they try to do the right thing, children will be children. They are naturally inquisitive, and they are unaware of the sophisticated tricks that are part of the Internet world.
Parents must protect kids from themselves. Being a parent is a job. A full-time job. Some parents like to use the helicopter approach to parenting, but that doesn’t usually end well for the kids or the parents. The best way to keep children safe is to allocate a time to use the Internet. A time when a parent is available to help them understand what is good Internet interaction, and dangerous Internet interaction.