Bringing up an “online generation”

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Parenting children in the 21st century entails raising technologically savvy children.

Did you know that currently, 79 percent of teenagers own cell phones, 29 percent of which are smartphones? Giving your child access to a cell phone isn’t always a bad idea; it’s an easy way of keeping in touch with them when they’re out with friends or at school extramural.

Smartphones provide youngsters with media access; they may browse the internet, download music, watch videos, make phone calls, and send text messages. The ability to access virtually any information in the world via the internet is a significant benefit for children. Google is used to find information for school projects and answers to challenging problems. Unfortunately, the same search engines are used by criminals to lure individuals into visiting pornographic, child trafficking, and cyber-bullying websites.

Here are some tips to keep your children safe in the cyberspace community.

Stranger danger

Teach your children not to meet internet strangers offline. Your child must know that they should never answer a number they don’t know.

Be careful of popups and attachments

Opening an attachment from a stranger could destroy your child’s files as it could contain a virus; it could spy on your child without them even being aware of it. Install a good anti-virus onto your child’s smartphone and make sure it is updated regularly. Teach your child that spam does not need a reply.

Don’t share personal information

Ensure your child’s privacy settings are enabled on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Make sure they don’t splurge information such as “I’m at the soccer practice after school”, or share personal information such as real names, cell phone numbers or addresses with online strangers.

Know who your child is communicating with

Parents need to be familiar with their children’s online friends. Encourage your children to tell you who they are talking to online.

Become a tech-savvy parent

If your child uses MXit, MySpace, Whatsapp or Facebook, so should you. You will be able to keep an eye on your child’s online activities and simultaneously improve your own understanding of technology.

Keep communication lines open

Having an open relationship with your child will give children the frankness to come to you if they feel threatened or uncomfortable by any online activities or friends. Don’t allow children access to the internet in their rooms – position computers in an open area where their activities can be monitored.

Make use of safety tools

Parents can use many technical tools to help control and monitor where their children surf online. You can install software to block or filter specific sites, which may contain information on sex, drugs or whatever keywords you choose are blocked. Monitoring and tracking software allows parents to track when their child goes online, how much time is spent online and on the computer, and which online sites they are frequently engaging with.