How to Know if Your Child is at Risk from Online Activities

All children can be at risk from online activities if they aren’t taught the do’s and don’ts of appropriate Internet usage and if you, their parent, don’t take the time to talk with them about the dangers.  The trick is to make sure that you minimize the risks for your child while allowing them access to the opportunities the Internet has to offer.teen-girl-on-computer.jpg

Children can be fascinated by a variety of things available on the Internet.  Online games.  Chat rooms.  Social networking sites.  Special interest sites.  Where it starts to go wrong is if the Internet starts becoming the most important thing to your child.

If your child starts spending all their spare moments online or, worse, is online when they should be doing other things like homework or going to bed, you will have to put your foot down.  The Internet is an adjunct to, not a replacement for, real life.  Should they become irritable or angry, you need to limit their Internet access, whether or not they like it.  After all, you’re the parent.

Also, if your child acts secretively around you or quickly flips to another screen when they’re on the computer, sit them down and ask them what they’re doing.  They shouldn’t be hiding anything from you when they’re online.

Be aware of your child’s social life and offline friendships, and make sure he actually has offline friends and activities.  Parents should make sure their child is involved in activities other than school.  It could be sports, music, scouting…it doesn’t matter.  They need to be involved in something other than the Internet for their non-school time.  Being involved in extracurricular activities is also a way for your child to make true friends, not online friends.  Children who have something in common often become good friends. 

Kids who have fun in the real world don’t need to become obsessed with the Internet world, and kids who aren’t obsessed with the Internet world are far less at risk from online activities.

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