This generation will never know the adventures of dial-up connections because it is so quick to connect these days, whether thru DSL, fiber, or satellite. Quantum internet technology is also in development for commercial release in the future. All these and more just to provide better, faster, more secure connectivity.
A VNI Global IP Traffic Forecast in 2015 stated there will be around 4.1 internet users in 2020. That forecast is close because today, a Digital 2020 report by We Are Social says that internet users have grown to 4.54 billion, with 3.80 billion of them on social media. These numbers will only just increase as the Internet infrastructure gets to more people and more places on the planet because there are over 5.19 billion mobile phone users globally to date.
But as with any technology, vulnerabilities are numerous with the advent of the Internet. Yes, doors have been opened for us to enter the digital world, but we need to remember those doors are effectively swinging wide open to our homes too. We have given the world access to our homes, our family, and especially our children.
The Internet Has Opened Access to Our Homes
Interestingly, some parents would go through leaps and bounds to physically protect their children from predators and other dangers in society today, but be so relaxed with monitoring their children’s Internet activities. We lecture our children endlessly about not talking to strangers, but some of us allow our children to surf the Internet—the big, wide world of strangers—without adult supervision. A parent may say, “They’re just playing games, talking with their friends, browsing stuff on the internet, what’s the harm in that?” We may not know entirely what’s lurking around our children as they surf the Internet, but it doesn’t mean they don’t exist. The Internet also carries with it something so powerful that it can reach through the screens of your children to their physical world—influence. In a parent’s mind, that new smartphone they gave as a gift to their child cannot cause harm because it is just a device. It is not. It is a door to your child’s life because, through this wonder of connectivity, influence comes, and influence is a powerful thing. Do you even know what kids are doing online these days?
In 2016, the Center for Cyber Safety and Education released the “Children’s Internet Usage Study” that gave an account of how 4th to 8th graders in America use the Internet, and this is what they found out: children are constantly engaging with strangers on the Internet. Some are even arranging for meet-ups in the real world, right under their parents’ noses, and not all instances have been safe for these young people who do. A lot of them have been harmed unimaginably because of something that seemed so simple. That smartphone, then, isn’t just a device after all.
These statistics by the same study are alarming:
With 70% of the children on cell phones, 64% on tablets, and 48% on a personal computer within their bedrooms, we have made it harder upon ourselves to monitor our children’s internet activity and guard them against the dangers of the Internet that come with its many benefits.
Parental Guidance is Advised
Every technology meant for good can always be used for evil in the hands of malicious people. The Internet is no exception, and we should start being vigilant to educate our children lovingly and level-headedly regarding their internet use. Remember, they are not like us. All of us who grew up before things got so techie might think that it’s just easy to swipe that phone away from our children’s hand because they’ll survive. They will survive, but don’t forget, connectivity is no longer a luxury for them like in our generation, it’s a necessity. This is the world they know, not ours. We cannot keep using lines like, “When I was your age, we didn’t need the Internet.” How will we know if we needed the Internet when we were younger when we did not have it at all? As parents or adults accountable to guide the future adults of society, we need to strike that balance in managing our children’s internet use, not to ban them from it, but to empower them to be aware, alert, and safety-savvy with their use of the Internet. Hopefully, if we do our jobs correctly, they grow up empowered and empowering their children, and so on.
Safety Tips for Parents to Keep Their Kids Safe Online
Here are some ways you need to educate your children to stay safe while using the Internet:
Safety Tips for Kids Using the Internet
There are a lot of media out there that is available for you to use in educating your children on internet safety. The key is not just talking about it once or twice, but making it a consistent topic and principle you all, as a family, should practice. This video below is for younger kids and easy to remember too:
Conclusion: Internet Security for Our Kids Begins With Us
Connectivity is one of the Internet’s greatest gift to mankind. But we should be connected to our children to a higher degree and hold the most significant influence in their lives, not some device, service, or “influencer” on social media, and certainly not cybercriminals waiting to exploit every chance they can get. Be there for your children in every aspect of their lives, including their online life. Internet security for our children does not begin with a software or an app or a computer class in school. It starts with us. Take an active role in keeping your kids internet-ready, internet-smart, and internet-safe.