The Internet and Your Child

By Jonathan Stromberg

    First appearing as recently as the 1980's, the Internet has become a worldwide phenomenon, currently with over 1 billion users worldwide (I.stats 2005). It acts as a window of information, and a means of entertainment for the whole world, and is accessible anytime and almost anywhere.
    For children, this wealth of information available at their fingertips can be of great benefit, expanding their horizons and exposing them to different cultures and ways of life.
    Unfortunately, the educational power of the Internet is tempered by the access that it allows children to endless sites containing undesirable articles, pictures and films.
    For parents of children that use the Internet, perhaps the most worrying material that can be accessed is pornography, and this topic is widespread; there are over 1.2 million porn sites that is approximately 260 million pages on this subject (N2H2, 2003), and it is growing at unprecedented rate.
    Due to natural curiosity about sexuality and sexually explicit material, children and adolescents sometimes use their on line access to actively seek out such material.
    These pages range from fairly mild to those of an extreme, violent and pedophiliac nature. Worst of all, they are easily accessible through search engines, simply by typing in any word related to the topic.
    Once found, such sites can expose a child to photos, videos and stories of a highly indecent and often shocking nature. The child is then able to freely download as many files as he/she likes and save them onto disk, thereby hiding from parents what has been viewed.
    Another danger of the Internet that parents need to be aware of is chat sites. And these sites are very popular with children. Unfortunately they can offer particular dangers that parents need to be aware of.
    Chat sites are particularly common amongst children, as they offer previously unparalleled opportunities to communicate in real time with people from all corners of the globe.
    However, not all of these people are benign. Many people use chat sites to seduce children and adolescents. Some of them are willing to expend considerable amounts of time and energy in the process, at first striking up a casual friendship, before slowly introducing sexual content into the conversations with children.
    One in five children who use chat rooms have been approached over the Internet by pedophiles (Online victimization, NCMEC, 2000). These offenders can victimize children through the chat process, or worse, attempt to collect child pornographic images. Worse still, some offenders try to seek meetings with children, into which such individuals, who have considerable experience, can easily coerce some children.
    In the past year, 1 in 33 children received aggressive sexual solicitation; in which the predator tried to fix a meeting with the child (Youth Internet survey, 2004).
    Studies have shown that only 25% of children and adolescents who encountered a solicitation told their parents (Youth Internet survey, 2004), and it can be very difficult for their parents to control their child's use of such sites, as the majority of children and adolescents use occurs at home, right after school, when working parents aren't at home.
    The range of undesirable sites on the Internet are not limited to those of just a sexual nature, as described above. With unlimited access, a child may be exposed to web sites containing violence, hostility, extremism and hate, in a way that was impossible before the Internet came into common use. Every view that is held in this world is represented on the Internet, and easily accessible. Its interactive nature, as well as the high quality of many of its sites can leave a lasting impression on a child.
    Controlling a child's use of the Internet, so that it is used in a positive and beneficial way, can be a constant challenge for caring parents. Fortunately there exist a range of programs that can be of great assistance, one of the most effective of which being iProtectYou.

    This program will put you in control of the Internet; empowering you to limit your child's use in a way specifically tailored to your needs. The application of this program will significantly reduce the dangers associated with the Internet, and enable your children to gain from the many benefits the Internet offers, whilst shielding them from potential harm.

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