A UBC professor has some tips for parents wanting to keep their children safe while they’re online.
Jennifer Shapka, who studeies human development, says excessive parental control could actually do more harm than good.
She says most children socialize online with their friends in healthy ways, and when they hear their parents tell them how dangerous it is, they tune them out.
“The reality is that if you try to control teenagers’ online behaviour, they’ll go underground with it and keep their online life secret from adults.”
Trust your children to make the right choices
Shapka suggests having an open and caring conversation about online behaviour that covers both positives and negatives, and not focus so much on fear.
With younger kids who haven’t been on the Internet yet, she says you might go online together at first to show them Google, YouTube, and email.
As they get older, Shapka says it’s important to show you trust your children so that if something does go wrong, they feel you’re open enough to tell you about it.
“If you micro-manage and control their online activities, which is essentially their social world, it really could backfire and you could be out of the loop very quickly.”
Majority of older children have smart phones
Last year, Shapka found more than 50% of kids ages 11 and 12 have a smartphone. She says for older kids it becomes one of the major tools for socialization. Read the complete UBC article here.
Parenting coach, Lisa Bunnage says parents still need to be involved
We spoke with parenting coach Lisa Bunnage about the UBC article. She says that while she understands the point about not being over-controlling, the internet can expose children to predators and pornography, and that children’s internet use should be monitored closely until they are about 14-years-old.