Pediatricians Tell Parents: Active Participation Required to Supervise Online Activities

Posted by on Apr 21, 2011 in Blog | 0 comments


Pediatricians have taken a stand on internet safety. The American Academy of Pediatricians recently said that doctors need to “Discuss with parents the importance of supervising online activities via active participation and communication, as apposed to remote monitoring with a “net-nanny” program (software used to monitor the internet in the absence of parents.)”

I couldn’t agree more! It’s absurd for parents to rely on any filtering, blocking, keystroke recording, and monitoring technology that runs without parental involvement.
When parents know what their children are doing online, then they can teach safe, responsible appropriate behavior. Children do not learn internet safety skills on their own and may have a different idea of what’s appropriate and what’s not. It’s up to parents to instill their own values about what’s acceptable online and offline.

According to there were 47 Million new websites added in 2009 alone, which translates to 128,767 websites daily. Do you really think that the blockers/ filters can keep up with these numbers? Not to mention that kids can easily Google how to circumvent “net-nanny like” products. Teens are able to turn off these products and turn them on again when they are done using the computer without parents ever knowing. Kids are encouraged to get around these products by being emailed proxy sites to get around blockers. In addition, most kids are quite good at erasing browser histories.

Even when the most egregious sites “go away”, there are equally bad if not worse clones that appear, e.g. ChatHopper, or Omegle instead of Chat Roulette. There are hate sites, pro-anorexia sites, suicide sites, more and more porn sites, virtual identity sites, wanna be a bimbo sites, violent sites, sites promoting drugs, sex and binge drinking , and anonymous bullying sites- all sites that you don’t want your child exposed to.

The web has become very visually based as opposed to text based. A child doesn’t need to type to click to an offensive, inappropriate site. Clicking out of an appropriate website accidentally is extremely easy to do. A friend’s son, only 7 was watching a football video to learn a skill, with his father in the same room. His son ended up clicking on an image and was soon watching an Adam and Eve Raw video… You can imagine how quickly the Dad sprung into action to turn off the computer. Key logging would never record this since there aren’t any key strokes to log.

Facebook, and You Tube are here to stay. Friending your child is a good way to monitor your child on Facebook. But is that the only social networking site your child is on? There are over 100 social networking sites. Does your child have more than 1 Facebook account, one for parents and then one for friends? Facebook is just one piece of internet activity. It’s not enough to only monitor Facebook.

A few of the monitoring technologies provide recorded snapshots that are emailed to parents based on a key word trigger, or timed snapshots. They are not live, like ScreenRetriever. They are after the fact and parents must then go through the emailed snapshots to check on computer activity. ScreenRetriever provides immediate live monitoring with a continuous view of all of your child’s computer activity.

Psychologist, Dr. Michelle Borba, says that “There’s no doubt that we should monitor their online presence, just as we do our children’s offline existence -it is responsible parenting after all.” Five reasons she gives to monitor: 1. Internet dangers are real, 2. Potential damaging future consequences, 3. Teens lack impulse control, 4. Hands-on parenting curbs risky teen behavior and 5. It’s a parental responsibility to guide and protect their children off and online. Period.

It’s important that monitoring be transparent, that children know they are being monitored. When children know they’re being monitored, they tend to be more appropriate because they know that mom or dad will be checking in to see that they are behaving appropriately just as they do in the offline world. Live monitoring and active parenting becomes a natural deterrent to inappropriate behavior.

The time to pay attention to what your child is doing online is when they are online. This doesn’t mean hovering, it means occasionally checking in to see exactly what they are doing online. Live monitoring with their children’s knowledge allows parents to check in and make sure that children are using the computer safely, appropriately and responsibly. When Mom or Dad notices a problem, they can immediately have a conversation and teach their values about what appropriate and what’s not. It may be Suzie is doing homework but is also on Facebook, You Tube, listening to music, and playing a game at the same time. Or you may notice that an anorexic site has popped up. Once may be curiosity, three times you may need to have a talk. Your child is on a video chat site talking to someone you don’t recognize. Time for a talk.

Monitoring is parenting online just as you do offline, plain and simple. Follow the advice of the experts out there in the medical and psychology communities and start monitoring today.

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