The Internet is something that today’s generation of children have grown up with and is something that many of them will take for granted and not see it as a benefit of living in a technologically advanced civilisation. There are many benefits of having Internet access via a broadband connection and also lots of problems associated with that too. It is important to make sure that your children are able to access the Internet to the right kind of information that will benefit them and not to information that may potential cause problems.
In this article, I am going to look into some areas that children can use the Internet for and areas where they may run into things that we would rather they did not experience, especially at such a young impressionable age.
One of the things we hope that children can gain from the Internet is a solid learning platform enabling them to research things for their homework or to learn further if they wish. There’s no longer excuse for not being able to get homework done because the library is closed and the book you needed for research is there. Pretty much every single piece of written information is available online, and this is especially true when it comes to learning aids.
There is also a wealth of learning sites on the Internet, and it is a great place for children to learn valuable skills that may help them in future. For example, there are sites like Team Treehouse that allows people of all ability to learn coding and related topics for a small fee. There are also sites like Lynda.com that has a more comprehensive library of topics.
This is one area where children today have a distinct advantage of older generations, learning and researching information is so much easier to do nowadays if so desired. The main issue with the Internet, however, is that it can also be a huge distraction to actually doing any homework and learning.
Sites like Twitter and Facebook have become very popular amongst younger generations, and for many, it will be the first point of contact or homepage. Social networks do have many great benefits to younger people, and that is mainly the fact that they can stay in touch with friends and family from anywhere around the globe. They can also use social media to find out information about the news and going on’s in the local area.
There are some main problems with social networking, however. The main problem is that it can be very distracting and due to the ease of being able to communicate via apps like Snapchat and Whatsapp at any time of day, wherever you are, it can be hard to find time for children to spend with family or to do some homework or learning.
Another problem with social media is that it can show sensitive information and can be a source of cyber bullying. A lot of children of school age will understand the concept of “trolling.” This is where an individual or group of people will be targeted for a particular comment, view point or simply because of appearance. The aim of trolling is to bully someone until they experience some sort of reaction. These experiences can be deeply traumatic for young people or in fact people of any age. It is important to keep an eye on this kind of activity online if you can. Also, make your children aware of how trolling works, and if someone tries to bully them online, there are places to report it, and by not rising to the troll, you are more likely to be left alone.
Gaming is another area that broadband connections are great for and something that almost all children will take part in some way or another. Console gaming has been around since the introduction of the Atari in 1977. However, gaming prior to mid-2000 was mostly offline. Gaming today is predominantly online and will almost always involve a connection to the Internet to enable update at the very least.
Online gaming can be great fun and allows children to play with people from all over the world at any time of day. The main problem, however, is due to the ease of access to broadband today, online gaming can become very addictive, especially on shoot-em-up style games that have ranking systems. The desire to climb the ranking tables can make these games very addictive and getting your child to limit time on a gaming console can be very tricky.
Making sure that children stay safe online is very hard although there are ways in which you can try and limit the type of content your child can see with parental controls. Many broadband ISP’s have some kind of parental control software provided when you purchase broadband through them. He most notable providers are TalkTalk, Sky and BT broadband.
It is also possible to set up parental controls on most modern routers so that you can restrict certain types of sites. While this can be very beneficial regarding restriction, it will also mean that you yourself will be restricted. If possible, it is advisable to purchase a stand-alone router with advanced features like guest access. You can use this feature to set up a different access point to the Internet for your children. It is possible to use this to restrict access at certain times of day and restrict certain content for that access point only.