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Is Your Child's Internet Use a Problem?

The Internet can be a fun, educational place for children and teens—or perhaps a dangerous place. Since there is no entity the governs the Internet, there are no limits to the material that is accessible.

  • Kids may be exposed to extremely inappropriate material of a sexual or violent nature.

  • Kids may provide information or arrange an encounter that could risk safety. Pedophiles have used online communication to gain a child's confidence and then arrange a meeting; that "12-year-old girl" that your child has become friends with could really be a 40-year-old man.

  • Kids may get email or bulletin board messages that are scary, harassing, or demeaning.

  • Lonely or isolated children and teens can develop an unhealthy attachment to spending time online. People in "real life" need to be their best friends and companions!

How to tell if your child's internet use is a Problem

  • Your child spends an unusual amount of time online, especially late at night.

  • The computer or monitor is suddenly switched off if you enter the room.

  • Your child uses a large number of disks to store online materials.

  • You find computer disks hidden in unlikely places.

Fortunately, there are ways to protect your kids online.

  • Just like with any other activity, be aware of the time your children are spending online and what they are doing during that time.

  • Get to know who there online friends are the same way you do their other friends.

  • Keep the computer in a public area, as opposed to in a child's bedroom.

  • Encourage your children to let you know about any threatening or harassing email, and make sure they know that getting that kind of email doesn't mean they've done something wrong!

  • Make sure your child knows what information is not okay to give out. Some information that may seem “safe” is not. Knowledgeable Internet users can sometimes identify your general geographic location from online interactions, and with a few details, could be able to locate your child. Tell your child not to divulge any personal details about themselves such as a last name, address, phone number, city, or the name of his/her school. Advise your child check with you first if s/he isn't sure about any particular question, or if someone is persisting after being refused personal information.

  • If you can't monitor your child's Internet use, consider filtering software that blocks out certain sites or material. A search engine query for "Internet blocking software" or "Internet safety" should help you find some alternatives. Recommended Software: Access Control Software

  • Tell your child to talk to you about anything that doesn't make sense, or just “feels weird.” If your child is feeling uncomfortable, there may be a good reason why. And regardless, the conversation will provide you an opportunity to help your child learn more about interacting with others, as well as helping you learn more about how your child perceives the world

Source: Headquarters Counseling Center


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