Monitoring techniques such as placing the computer in a public location and installing software to block unwanted sites are valuable and necessary tools, but unfortunately in today's world, they're no longer enough.
Research shows that today's kids often first encounter unwanted internet material when they are at a friend's house or at a location other than their own homes. With handheld devices like iPods, iPads, & Smartphones, online gaming systems, and Wi-Fi everywhere you go, kids today have more constant access to the internet than ever.
The most important thing we parents need to do, in addition to monitoring our children's internet activities, therefore, is to teach our children how to monitor their own activities, and to help them feel comfortable coming to us if/when they come across anything inappropriate. Here are a few suggestions:
- Teach your children about the dangers of the internet, including teaching about pornography, so they understand what is "ok" and what is not. Use language that is appropriate for their age.
- Teach them what to do when they come across something inappropriate. Make it clear that they need to come to you or another adult and tell you about it.
- Make sure they know that if they come to you they will not get in trouble. This is crucial in order to ensure trust between your child and you.
- If your child tells you he/she has encountered inappropriate material, it's important to go find and remove it from your computer or handheld device. It's also important to discuss the experience with your child. This will help you understand what they have been exposed to, how they felt about it, and give you the best chance for intervention.