He/she plays games
Many children are attracted to online games. They have great fun playing games and for many of them this is their first experience with the computer and internet. They usually visit various online sites where you can play games. As they grow and develop, children begin to explore more complex games, including games in various online groups. It is important that as parents you are constantly involved in the games your child plays. Before you allow your child to play a game online, you need to check the recommended age groups for that game.
The easiest way to find out more about what kinds of games your child likes to play online is to play them together with him/her. Try to have your child teach you the game, and if he/shelikesthis, you can play together. Things that you should be looking for in relation to the games your child plays games are why he/she likes that particular game, what satisfaction they feel when they play, who else from his/her circle of friends plays the same game, etc. In other words, it is important that you keep track and ask your child about the games that he/she plays and the people he has become friends with.
When your child tells you about any game he/she has been playing or wants to play, try to research more about that particular game beforehand. Usually, games which are recommended for certain age groups require users to open an account that requires permission from a parent. This means that your child has to write down the email address of one of his/her parents in order to create an account. You will then receive an email asking your consent for your child to join that game. Look for any advice that the website may have available for parents or guardians to assist you in protecting your child. It is important that you read this information thoroughly and report anything out of the ordinary back to the website.
You should constantly talk with your child about being careful with whom they choose to play online. Help them understand that is not good for him/her to share personal information, such as his name and surname, address, passwords, telephone numbers andthe school he/she attends, with strangersplaying online games. The majority of players are children, but some can also be adults with bad intentions. Tell your child about how some people maysometimeslye about who they really are and how they try to lure your child.
It is important to teach your child good manners so that he/she behaves properly with the rest of the players just like as if they were playing in the kindergarten. Try to always give them advice about how they should keep safe while online. They need to understand that they will not be allowed to play any more if they are arrogant towards the other players. Also, ask them if anyone in the game has been mean with them and has used offensive language. Children should not respond to these people and let you know at once so you can help.
Socializes with friends
Many online services we use allow us to create a circle of friends. The same should apply for your children too. Usually, when playing games online they will receive friend requests from other children and many social networks provide the possibility of either accepting or rejecting friend requests. Help your children to understand:
- Who are the friends they have been communicating online with? Different people may talk with your child and have access to their personal information. Children in their friends’ lists must have only those who they know in the real world.
- Who sees what they are doing. Your child needs to know what information is visible to his/her friends, because some of these ‘friends’ can use this information for bad intentions or to manipulate your child.
- What to do if people are rude. There are many people who can be very rude on the internet and it is important that your child knows that there is the possibility of blocking or reporting that person.
Talks to people
Children use the internet to talk to other people in different ways, such as through e-mail, instant messenger, chats with a webcam and chat rooms. Online chats are very different from one-on-one conversations, because it is more comfortable to say and reveal things about yourself which you never would in the real world. With younger children, you need to be aware who they speak with online in order to protect them from any potential risks they may encounter.
Instant messaging is a very good way of chatting with friends and family because it provides privacy and only the people logged in the chat can see what is written.When your child communicates with his/her friends via this application, written messages appear instantly on the screen enabling a direct and real-time conversation. This application enables him/her to see all the names of his/her friends in a list. This list shows when they are online and at the same time enables him/her to talk to them. When chatting with friends online, children can also use a webcam that lets them see each other and talk at the same time, even if they are in different countries.
A chat room is a forum where groups of people meet online to talk about various topics. Sometimes, these chat rooms are regulated in such a way that a computer program makes searches for inappropriate language or behaviour.
Electronic messages (e-mail) are anotherparticular way of communicating with friends and family. Electronic messages have already become part of official communication in the daily work of many businesses andinstitutions. Your children can send electronic messages to many people simultaneously from anywhere in the world. You should always make sure that your children are receiving messages only from people they know.
Services like Skype can be used for free and are very popular. Conversations with the webcam on enable you to also see the person you are talking to. This can be a fun way of talking with each other for children, however, it is important to keep in mind that what children see can be recorded and distributed to other people in undesirable ways.
Your children may ask for an email address of their own. Your should consider whether they are old and mature enough to have their own email address, as this would make them a little more independent by enabling them to use their email address for registering in different websites. If your child wants to open an email address, here are some simple steps you should take in order to keep them safe:
- Create the account together with them – this will give you an idea about what type of personal information is required for opening the account, and its functionality.
- Check for monitoring options – various popular services now have parental controls that can help you set restrictions. Some of them also provide the option of opening a family account where you would be able to see allemails received and sites where your child registered. If this is impossible, then especially in the case of younger children you can keep the password.
- Ask your child to send emails only to people he/she knows and trusts in the real world.
- Ask your child to never open emails sent from people he/she does not know or click on unknown links.
- Encourage your child to tell you if he/she sees something disturbing online because you can help.
Many sites that your children use encourage them to share bits of information about themselves with others. They can share things like opinions about what they like and what they don’t, what they are doing, their files, information about themselves such as their name and home address, videos and music. The internet is a very good tool for disseminating this information, and finding out what your friends are doing can be fun. However, it is important that children think twice before they share their personal information. You must teach your child not to distribute any pictures and videos without your permission, to give only limited personal information and, for example, not share his/her home address or the name of the school he/she attend, and share personal information only with friends they already know.
Searches for materials
Search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing make our lives easier by giving some sort of order to the‘chaos’ of internet and connecting us with the different websites we need. In a world where information is so easily accessible, it is very easy for children to run into things that can bother or sadden them. In addition, they can come across different websites which are not appropriate for their age. While most parents and guardians are confident with what their children do online, children are naturally curious and may use inappropriate words for searches,without thinking of the results that will show up. A simple way of helping your child not to come across things he/she does not need to see is to adjust the parental controls settings on these browsers. What this will do is block inappropriate materials for children.
Uses his/her cell phone
Whether your child should have a cell phone or not is a tough call. Having a cell phone is a great responsibility. If you are considering the option of buying your child a cell phone, it is important that you are able to help your child manage the time he/she spends using it.Cell phonesare a great way of staying in touch with your child. You will feel more comfortable and your child willinteract with his/her friends more easily. Nowadays, a large number of children have their own cell phones. Lest you forget that cell phones are like a pocket-sized computer and usually offer the same functions as a computer. Nowadays, many cell phones enable you to:
- Have internet access no differently than you would have from a computer – children can visit any online site, including Facebook, YouTube or other sites inappropriate for their age.
- Take pictures and share pictures or videos – most cell phones now come with an integrated camera. Children can take pictures of themselves and share them very easily and free of charge, by uploading them on the internet, attaching them in an email message or even sending them via phone messages.
- Chat via instant messenger, have a video conversation or send text messages – children can participate in private conversations with people through their cell phones.
- Show your exact location – through GPS, many cell phones can identify the user’s location on a real-time basis. This can then be shared through social networks and other sites or applications.
- Play games – children can use their phones to play games and download new games which may also require a payment.
With all these features, talking to people is just a small fraction of what cell phones can be used for. Therefore, it can be difficult to control what your child does on a cell phone that supports such services and applications. Keep in mind that you can always buy a simpler cell phone for your child. In fact, this is recommended especially in the case of younger children. When it comes to your child’s cell phone, you should apply the same safeguards as in other aspects of his/her daily life.
There are some phone accessories which allow you to monitor your child’s phone. This includes blocking access to various sites and monitoring your child’s activities. When you decide that the time is right for your child to get a cell phone, you should consider the services offered by the operator and by the cell phone device itself. Discuss with your child what is okay to be shared and what is not. Discuss the consequences that could arise.