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Should you let your child use the Internet?

The Internet is a rapidly improving network that is readily accessible by almost everyone who has an active internet connection. Almost every conceivable thing can be found on the Internet, some of them are beneficial, while some of them can be harmful, especially to innocent children surfing the net.

Nowadays, it is not a huge shock to see young children with the latest smartphones, loaded with their favourite games and social media. Is this really a good idea? Let us break down the pros and cons of the Internet. Take note these are our views, and there no correct answer to whether your child should be using the Internet.

Potential Benefits

1. Stay Updated

The Internet is constantly improving and being updated with the latest information. Information can easily be uploaded onto the Internet and be viewed by anyone. As such, it is a great source for your children to stay updated with current affairs.

Rather than getting your child to sit down to watch the news or get their hands dirty by picking up the daily newspaper, you could choose to pay for online subscriptions of digital newspapers for you and your children. They can receive notifications when new articles are posted, and it can make the child intrigued to click and read it when he or she is able to.

Sometimes the articles may be related to children, and it may be good if the child reads about such articles that could relate to them. For example, if a child reads about another child committing a crime and being punished for it, chances are that the child will feel a sense of fear and learn not to do the same as the child in the news.

2. Keep in Touch

The Internet has given birth to several communication channels that are free to download and use. These communication channels are perfect for your children to stay connected with you wherever they are.

Long distance communication through messaging is now a norm, and it is great for families to share interesting finds or information with one another. Most families have a family chat group on WhatsApp, which is extremely efficient for reaching out to all family members at once, instead of sending each member a message individually. Members can share media and messages with one another effortlessly, and this can ensure no one is left out, making the family feel more closely-knitted.

It can also allow children to update their parents on things such as where they are, if anything crops up, or if there is something they need to tell each other. It is such a convenient way to keep each other connected and in touch.

3. Key that Unlocks the Door of Knowledge

All kinds of information are readily available on the Internet. If your child needs answers to questions, he or she can tap on the vast resources of the Internet.

With a simple search of a question, thousands of results will show up that can serve to answer that burning question in your child’s mind. With several ‘safe-search’ filters you can set on search engines like Google, parents can do their part to filter out harmful unwanted results, before allowing their children to roam free on their quest to find their answers.

There is also a plethora of educational courses online for your child to gain new knowledge. The Internet brings about the factor of interactivity to a child’s learning, and they may learn better through this method because it is generally more enjoyable than learning in school through the whiteboard and papers.

 

Potential Disadvantages

1. Harmful Content on the Internet

The Internet is full of beneficial content, but it is also full of content that are detrimental to a child. We previously mentioned that you can turn ‘safe search’ filters before you pass your phone to your child, but it may not be long before your child figures out how to turn that filter off. This will leave your child vulnerable to a world of unsafe content. Such content include pornography, violence, dark humour etc.

There have been many cases of young children involved in police cases due to the influence of what they have been exposed to on the Internet. Cases of young boys raping girls after being brainwashed by pornography, children hitting their parents, are very common even in Singapore’s context.

Some may think it is a bit too intrusive, but a good idea for parents could be to monitor their child’s internet viewing history. Besides, if the child has nothing to hide, it would not be too much for mom and dad to take a look at what they have been searching on the net.

2. Addiction

The Internet is a highly enjoyable place to spend time in most cases. There are plenty of fun activities to do on the web, such as gaming and watching a large number of videos to spend time. As a result, the Internet is a highly addictive place to be, even for many adults.

Internet addiction may cause your child to spend a lot of his or her time glued to their phone or computer screens. Not only is this bad for eyesight, it may cause other problems such as anti-socialism. As with many of the good things in life, it is important to practice moderation for Internet usage.

If you do let your child go on the Internet, it is good that you set limits on the amount of time they spend browsing the net.

Some tips:  Ensure that they sleep at an appropriate time every day, or make sure they are not using their phones at the dinner table.

3. Internet Predators

The Internet is home to many fake avatars online, who constantly try to prey on innocent victims, to satisfy their different desires and objectives.

Some predators can be classified as sexual predators. They are out on the internet to try and get people to satisfy their sexual desires, usually tricking victims into sending inappropriate photos to them. This is disgusting behaviour, but it is almost impossible to eliminate all these fake personas from the Internet. They lurk in many places, especially in online virtual chat platforms, disguised as fake online personas pretending to be someone they aren’t. They can either get comfortable with your children first, or threaten them to send these inappropriate images.

Another common type of predators are scammers, always phishing for confidential information such as credit card credentials, or other sensitive information.

It is a good idea to advice your children to only message only people they know and stay away from chat platforms where 2 unknown online identities chat with each other. Tell your child to never send any information to anyone online, and always let you know when they are threatened or feel uncomfortable online.

Conclusion

We have laid out some pros and cons of letting your child visit the Internet, based on our own opinions. In a nutshell, it is important for parents to monitor their children’s Internet browsing habits, ensuring they are viewing only appropriate content.

Share with us! Do you or would you let your kids use the Internet?

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