Today, the Internet is our children’s favourite ‘playground’. Technology is rapidly changing and so are our children’s engagements online. They visit different websites, try new activities, and create new social networking accounts. In the past, email was widely used by everyone to communicate with one another. Today, most people use built-in messaging on Twitter and Facebook to communicate and socialise. It is our responsibility as parents to help guide and set boundaries so that online risks and threats don’t destroy your child’s reputation or future.

children and internetDespite the many advantages and benefits of technology, it also comes with risky repercussions given. Norton Online Family Report 2010 reports that seven in ten children have experienced negative situations online and have been affected by it emotionally. Online safety measures are vital and the most effective way to keep your children safe online. Besides having comprehensive software in place, you also need to have ongoing and open dialogues with them.

Getting your children to tell you about their internet experiences can be quite a task. Parents don’t have to be Internet experts to help their children enjoy the Internet safely. Providing your children with a safe online environment is a lot easier than you think. What is critically effective is to have open conversations with your kids about their online activities, explain and set family rules and then repeat the talk to ensure your children are abreast of all the latest threats and issues affecting the online world.

Five easy questions to get you started:

– What are your friends doing online?
– What are the coolest or newest websites?
– Show me your favourite sites
– Ask about cyberbullying
– When you’ve been online, have you ever seen anything weird or that made you feel uncomfortable?

Nevertheless, at Norton, we’ve learned through our in-depth global research with parents and children, that children want their parents to know more about the Internet. They are also willing to talk to their parents about the web. That is good news. Let’s walk the talk. Talking (two-way conversations), is the easiest way to ensure your family is safe and have responsible online habits. It’s not technical; let’s help give everyone a safer and healthier online experience.

By Effendy Ibrahim Internet Safety Advocate & Director, Consumer Business, Asia, Symantec

This article was first published in The New Age Parents Magazine Oct-Nov 11 issue Page 24

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