Raise Cyber Smart Children

By Johanise Fouche

The internet is an amazing tool filled with information about anything. It eases the finding of information for school projects, it beats the schlep of going to the library to look up information in the encyclopaedias, like in the “good old days”. No more driving around, projects can be completed in the safety of your own home.
But how safe is it really? As soon as you let the internet into your home, you let the whole world into your home. Inappropriate content, cyberbullying and predators lurking on apps and websites especially designed for children is a huge concern. Searching air transport might even introduce your young child to the “mile high club”. You never know what to expect when searching for innocent content. Online software for parental control is available. This will help you control screen time, block unwanted web content, restrict the use of risky applications and much more. Try the following websites:




Unfortunately, to download one of these sites will never secure your child. You also need to do the following:

Never reveal personal information, for instance, home address, telephone number, school name or location
Never share passwords (except with parents)
Never agree to meet anyone you met on the internet in person without your parent’s approval/presence
Monitor computer, telephone or tablet use
Check your credit card or telephone account printout for unfamiliar telephone numbers
Take your child seriously when they report an uncomfortable incident
Ensure an open communication line between you and your child
Build a trusting relationship with your child, let them know they can talk to you about anything

Warning signs can include your child closing an application when you are in close vicinity, calls from strangers, withdrawal from family activities and reluctance to share online information.
Most teenagers make use of some sort of social media. It is a fantastic way to keep in touch with friends and family and they can interact with others who has the same interest as them. There is also a flip side. Social media can become a platform of cyberbullying. Photos of your child can be posted by themselves or peers. Comments can become nasty and personal and your child’s self esteem might take a knock. Posting an inappropriate photo can damage his/her reputation and the cause problems years later.
Teach your child to always be friendly and nice on social media. Making a rude comment, even if it was meant as a joke, can hurt feelings and be seen as a threat. Think twice before posting. Comments, photos or information. Always ensure strict privacy settings on social media, don’t just take their word for it. Go through the privacy settings with them. Never befriend strangers, ever.
Your child needs to be able to trust you. You have to have an open line of communication. No matter what the problem is. Did you know, should a child younger than 18 make inappropriate comments on social media, the parent/guardian will be held accountable should a law suit arise?
The internet can be a wonderful tool, but beware of any predators looking for entertainment.

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