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The Dangers of Kids Online

There are many news articles out there that talk about children and the internet. You hear horror stories all the time. But what makes the
internet so dangerous for children? Why do parents and safety advocates want companies and online retailers to verify that a person is over thirteen years old before allowing them to create an account? What, really, is the big deal here? Well, here are some reasons that parents and more should watch children’s internet use closely:

  1. The internet is forever – One thing that even teens and young adults seem to forget is that anything you put online stays online forever. Be it a mistimed Tweet, a bad picture, or just some stupid comment you make on Facebook, what you say can and will be held against you later. Do not think you can just delete something either. Screen captures and other methods of looking ‘back in time’ online are very effective. Children do not have the wisdom as to what is acceptable to say online and what is not. Not only can what they say as kids affect their relationships with friends and family, but it can also affect their chances in getting into colleges and getting a job. You have to think about the long term implications of everything you say or post online. You have no idea how long something you post can stick with you. Children are especially prone to being foolish online, so they need parental supervision and support more than any other age group. After all, they have their whole lives ahead of them.

  2. Pictures –Going along with the last point, posting photos online is always a dangerous proposition. Not only can strangers find out what you look like but they can look in the background of your images and find out what kind of house you live in, your address, where you go to school, what activities you do and more. This can be dangerous for adults with stalkers, kidnappers, conartists and thieves lurking around the internet, but it is even more dangerous for children. They have no concept of hiding where they are and what they are doing. Programs like Instagram make it even easier for them to connect photos and places online, so that their friends and even strangers can see where they are, what they are doing, and who they are with. What more information does a bad guy need?

  3. Perverts – Speaking of bad guys, do you know who your children are talking to online? Do they? Little Sally from the next town over could be Big Jim the pedophile down the street. When you are online, no one really knows for sure who you are. Children often get tricked into talking with kidnappers and pedophiles long before they are ever in any ‘real’ danger. Just like in real life, children should be warned not to talk to strangers online and never, ever, meet anyone they have only talked to over the internet in person. I can’t tell you how many horror stories the newspapers print about stuff like that, but it still happens often.

  4. Bad influences – Even if your kids are talking to people they know online do you know what they are talking about? Bad influences are everywhere. If you will not let your child hang out in person with the young fire starter across the street or the gang member in training he knows from gym class then why would you allow them to hang out online? Know who your child is talking to and what they are talking about. When kids feel like they can get away with saying anything they start getting worse and worse. Do not think it stays online either. These things translate into real life and behavior problems as they get older.

  5. Reality – Another problem children have when they are online too much is issues discerning reality from fantasy. Young children already have a hard time doing that with television and games, but if you add the complexities of discerning the truth in the online world then you have a big mess on your hands. How many news stories have you seen about kids who think they are the characters they play online and get killed? Or ones that think they are ‘in a relationship’ because it says so on Facebook? Or make some concoction that they get directions for online that ends up being toxic or hazardous? Heck, directions to make a bo--mb or na--palm are easier to find then a recipe for chocolate chip cookies!

  6. Addiction – As the use of the internet spreads into smart phones and tablets, the temptation to be always online is hard to resist even for adults. I recently read an article that said that millions of children in Korea under the age of eleven were addicted to the internet. My question is what are they doing online in the first place? Kids need real world interaction when they are young, not the constant barrage of ads and lies that make up the online world. Resist the urge to get your youngster a cell phone or tablet computer. You need to be aware of when they are online, what they are doing online, and who they are talking do. I am not saying they can’t be online, but children need constant supervision to assure their safety and future.

  7. Exposure – An additional aspect of unsupervised internet access for kids is the amount of junk they are exposed to. We all know that we learn faster and more at a young age then we do for the rest of our lives. When children are exposed to ads, lies, manipulations and half-truths, what will they learn? Flashy and loud will win out against school books and teachers any day. They are also exposed to things that are not appropriate for their age. Childhood is not the time to be exposed to that kind of trash. Children have no barriers and very little in the way of a moral compass to help them know right from wrong. In order for them to grow up healthy, happy and balanced they need to be protected from bad influences and lies until they can discern what truth is.

  8. Security – Last but not least is the security and safety factor. Not only should you be worried about their physical safety from kidnappers and pedophiles, but the security of their data online as well. Phone numbers, addresses, social security numbers and more can all be stolen easily from a child’s computer. They do not know what a scam is and what is for real. Even if they do not have access to sensitive information like their social, chances are they are using a computer that does have the information in it somewhere. If they click on the wrong link or okay the wrong program the computer could be infected with a Trojan or other virus that could steal their identity and yours. The thief could use their credit for years and no one would know a thing about it until they got old enough to try to purchase something on their own. By then it is far too late. Identity thieves love children for just this reason.

Protect your children and their futures. Never let your children go online unsupervised. Do not let very young children go online at all. There are plenty of other ways to help children to become tech savvy without allowing them unlimited access to the internet. Be a wise parent and watch what your kids are doing online.

Author Bio: Paul and his wife Julie both spend quite a bit of time coming up with ideas, blogging, and researching all things related to childcare. They take care of all the necessary information related to “babysittingjobs.com/”. He personally thinks his blog will help with finding information on all things related to a babysitter.

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