Dr. Michele Borba, child psychologist and online safety advocate for the TODAY Show, gives great insight into why parents need to monitor their children’s use of the Internet and social networks. The online world opens up a whole new place to learn and explore but, as is the case with many other things, parents must take an active role in kids’ online activities to be sure that their children are safe.
We can’t assume that a child won’t venture onto websites or networks that aren’t age-appropriate. Although most kids are good about safe searching and only visiting appropriate sites, there is still a chance that they might come across material that isn’t suitable for children. A child doesn’t necessarily go out looking for trouble, but it comes down to the way in which they exist on the internet that exposes them to potential harm. We see this specifically in social networking and the way kids are prone to overexpose themselves. According to Dr. Borba, active parents who monitor their kids both on- and offline are less likely to have children who exhibit risky behaviors.
There are dangers on the web that parents must be aware of and take into consideration when they choose to give their kids access to the Internet. Online predators, pornographic sites, cyberbullying, online harassment and sexting are just some of those concerns. Your child probably isn’t ready for many aspects of the adult world, and this is why monitoring children’s online behaviors is a must. Taking the parent roll and guiding your child to make good decisions online – and protecting them from dangers against which they might be defenseless – is not spying. It’s just plain smart parenting.
I’m not concerned with nor do I necessarily want to know about every conversation my child is having with his friends online, but I do want to know if and when someone is bullying him, if someone is trying to convince him to use drugs or alcohol, or if someone is posting something that can hurt his reputation. Having this information and taking appropriate action is not overacting, and will only help to ensure that I do my job as a parent to protect my child as best I can.
This is why I joined the SocialShield team, and I know that I will only get reports of things that may be harmful to my child. As an informed parent, I can now discuss with my child any issues I come across to make him a safer, wiser and more responsible online citizen. The bottom line is that we should focus on teaching and promoting respect online, both for ourselves, our kids and others. To learn more about Dr. Borba’s outlook on these issues, I encourage you to check out her website at micheleborba.com.