(BPT) - Parents have always had a lot to worry about when it comes to their children. It's simply part of the job. Many of the issues parents face today are the same ones they've dealt with in the past, including safety, diet and how much independence to give their kids. But parenting in the 21st century also comes with new challenges that past generations never had to tackle. Overwhelmingly, these challenges have to do with how kids safely and responsibly use digital technology.
Kids are starting to use social media at progressively younger ages, but they often aren't prepared for navigating the online world. Rather than handing them a device and letting them learn from friends or on their own, many parents have made it a priority to teach their kids the importance of safe online communication.
As kids go back to school and reconnect with friends, parents should expect an increase in their kids' online socializing. Therefore, reviewing these five key points on internet safety with your child is both important and timely.
- Take a pledge of anonymity.One of the most important lessons you can impart on your children is the need to remain anonymous while online. Make sure they understand that "stranger danger" applies to the online world as much as to the real world. Have them pledge to remain anonymous when online, and never share personal information such as their full name, address or phone number.
- Keep the computer in a common area. To better monitor how your children use their devices, allow them to explore the online world in a public place in your home where you can coach them through any issues they might encounter.
- Prepare them for social media. Many kids under 13 are eager to jump on social media before they are ready or permitted. A great way for kids between the ages of six and 12 to connect with friends is through Animal Jam, the online playground for kids to safely explore the online world. Think of Animal Jam as social media training wheels. With in-game moderators, strict privacy features and regularly updated chat filters, Animal Jam allows kids to have a positive experience connecting and playing games with friends online.
- Embrace the benefits of games. More parents are realizing the positive impact that educational games can have on their children's development. According to research conducted by WildWorks, a leading developer of online games, 71 percent of parents think online games help their child relax and unwind, and 66 percent agree that online games help to broaden their child's imagination. Be sure to encourage your kids to keep an eye out for inappropriate behavior and to tell you about anything that might be worrisome or makes them uncomfortable.
- Keep the conversation going. Once you've talked to them about online safety, it's not over! The conversation continues, and you should continually talk with your kids about proper online etiquette and behavior.
The internet can be a wonderful resource that opens up new and exciting worlds for your kids. However, to get the most out of the seemingly limitless potential of the internet, kids need to know how to be responsible digital citizens. Platforms like Animal Jam are the perfect way to get them started.