How Should We Control Our Children's Internet Access?
Children’s internet access is one of the areas that most worries parents today. New technology and total access to the world wide web are relatively recent issues. Due to the lack of experience from their own childhood and certain ignorance about this new world, parents may feel confused about what limits they should be setting for their children.
Children and internet access
For adults, it’s often surprising to see the ease with which children handle electronic devices. Almost intuitively, children adapt to this technological world and are fully immersed in it.
Because of this, it’s just not realistic to try to keep our children away from the online world. They’re children of this technological era and if there is an excessive restriction of their internet access then it could deprive them of an important part of their social and educational development.
The Internet is a tool that, depending on how we use it, can either be positive or negative. On the one hand, it provides us with information, fun, and a new way of communicating with the people around us. The latter is especially the case with young people.
On the other hand, minors can be exposed to content that is highly inappropriate for them. In addition, due to the instant availability of the information and content, children can become addicted very quickly, and can turn quite impulsive.
Because of this, the best option is to simply apply common sense and make sure we’re supervising them properly, in the same way that we do in other areas of their lives. We can do this by offering guidance, setting limits and teaching them values that can then lead children to develop their own criteria.
Keys for addressing our children’s internet access
The first step in addressing our children’s internet access is to really understand what we’re faced with. It’s not a good idea for children to know more about the internet and devices than their parents do. That’s why you should try to find out as much information as possible about this new world.
You’ll need to have some basic knowledge about how to use these devices. You should also become familiar with different social networks and video games that your children may be using. Only in this way can we have an informed opinion and, as a result, set appropriate limits.
We should make it our responsibility to provide our children with correct information about the internet. Part of that will be to explain the pros and cons of going online, and all the dangers involved.
In the same way that we tell them not to talk to strangers on the street, we should tell them the same regarding strangers on the network (and warn them that strangers can come disguised as friends).
Basic rules, such as not sharing personal information or making contact with strangers, should be made clear to children. We must make it clear that it’s not just because we say so, but because there is a real danger there.
As parents, we must monitor our children’s use of network access. For that reason, we recommend that the computers they navigate on are kept in a common area of the house, and that we’re in the area when they’re using them.
You’ll need to set limits on the number of hours they can use their devices and on the content they can access. There is different parental control software that allows us to restrict and monitor these two aspects.
Establishing a bond of mutual respect and trust with our children is one of the best ways of doing things. Try to be a part of your children’s life, both online and offline. Instead of judging or criticizing their online behavior, be flexible and available to guide them.
It’s important to make sure that children don’t share personal information or photographs without our supervision. However, do try to balance this control with confidence in them. Let them show you that they’re responsible.
Finally, we have to regard internet access as just one part of our lives. We shouldn’t eliminate it completely, but neither should we let it absorb all our children’s time.
It definitely isn’t beneficial to use electronic devices as a type of babysitter or allow children to use it to escape from reality. It’s important to show them other leisure alternatives such as reading, board games, and sports. We must show them how important real social interaction is, and this can never be replaced by the internet.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Aguaded-Gómez, J. I. (2011). Niños y adolescentes: nuevas generaciones interactivas. Comunicar, 18(36), 7-8.
- Bernardes, F. (2011). Niños online: riesgos, oportunidades y control parental. Nuevos Medios, Nueva Comunicación, 985-996.