Children on the Internet
There is no consensus on whether to limit or, on the contrary, encourage the desire of children to use the Internet. Defenders of the restrictive measures are persuaded that the system can cause unsafe reliance, and is loaded with dangerous data, from which the youthful children's awareness cannot be spared. Web in their comprehension can cause issues with live correspondence, fortifying the children’s desire to live a real-life (Holloway, Green & Livingstone 4-5). Others trust that many educational programs are accessible to kids on the web, and with legitimate parental control innovations work just for the advantage of the improvement - if they do not listen, would prefer not to convey or behave aggressively, the reason is not that a child invests much energy in virtual reality (Jones & Park 4).
Those and others are right in their way - there are many opportunities and risks for children and adolescents on the Internet. Nevertheless, since Internet has invaded all spheres of human activity – from simple surfing and searching the data online to online educational facilities and exploring the space. Communication with abusers and predators, identity theft, and unnecessary information harming the child's psyche are the most acute and widespread problems children face on the web, leading to dangerous consequences.
Research by National Center for Missing and Exploited Children ® (NCMEC), Cox Communications Inc., in association with John Walsh conducted in 2008 uncovers that more parents and caregivers are conversing with their children about the potential threats of the Internet. In any case, 10 years ago numerous youngsters stayed unconcerned about the dangers of sharing individual information on the Internet, and almost 66% post photographs or recordings of themselves on interpersonal organizations like Facebook and Friendster. OfCom (2016) study and National Center for Education and Statistics research say that around one of every ten online 8-11s (10%) and one out of five online 12-15s (19%) say they have seen something on the web that was stressing or terrible, around one out of twelve of each of the 12-15s (8%) say they have been reached online by somebody they do not know, and 4% say they have seen something of a sexual sort, either on the web or on their cell phone. More than nine out of ten 8-15s say they have been given data about remaining safe on the web. More than nine out of ten 8-11s (94%) and 12-15s (94%) who go online say they would tell somebody on the off chance that they saw something stressing or frightful on the web, with this well on the way to being a family member (National Center for Education and Statistics 72). Numerous children and teenagers are unconcerned about the risks of sharing individual information on the web.
Deal with various threats emanating from social networks, they can be divided into online and offline. Each of these categories contains several varieties, but sometimes they are also closely intertwined. Online threats - any problems that are dangerous to computers, also those that affect offline, but indirectly. For example, a child can access unwanted content (sites with pornography, an abundance of profanity, photos, and videos containing scenes of violence), stealing a password in a social network or for a mailbox. The second category of threats is offline including everything that can happen to a child already in real, not virtual life. It includes proposals for a meeting from unknown “friends” telephone blackmail, fraud, extortion and even robbing an apartment or stealing other property.
Online threats are mostly limited by the threats to the data stored on computers since there are various categories of computer viruses that can leak while traveling through the expanses of social networks. Interested in the content of the e-mail letter or comment under the photo, a child clicks on the link, which will translate it to a mysterious site, incidentally downloading to the computer all sorts of malicious programs. However, such a threat is not limited to computer use only by children – adults are also frequent victims of such use.
The most significant type of online threat to a child is social networks - a fount of all sorts of information, which is grouped into interests. They can be accessed both to favorite movies, books, and TV series, and to more dangerous content. According to statistics, the top five most popular children’s search queries include the word “porn” and such a request is mostly satisfied with social networking websites. The fault here is not even the creators of social networks, which are trying to filter out all sorts of thematic groups, and the users who create them and move them from group to group, overtaking the actions of security services.
Such a threat is the most dangerous kind that can damage not only the property but also life. Often scammers do not even need to puzzle over how to get the cherished information from the user – the user, especially a child, himself provides it. For instance, when registering on the social network and compiling a personal profile, an individual is asked to enter information about the year of birth, phone number, email address, address of residence, and work. Unfortunately, children perceive such “requirements” as a necessity and enter personal information into all fields. In general, social networks can get a lot of coveted information, which is not only used by scammers themselves but is sold at an attractive price.
Equally, an unpleasant situation is a fraud. Unfortunately, children do not always notice the dirty trick and turn to their parents for help. There are dozen or even hundreds of fraud schemes and, unfortunately, the objects of fraud are frequently children since they are more na? and trusting than an adult. Finally, the web can be not only a hotbed of cyber-fraudsters but also people with more serious deviations. The situation of using fake accounts with the purpose to call a child for a meeting is rather widespread.
Current Advice and Solutions
Together with the growing interest of children and teenagers in Internet content, several pieces of vice and probable solutions to the problem are developed by numerous psychologists and childcare professionals. The major finding here is that the public way of combating the problem is mostly useless (Ferrara 280). Despite the owners and moderators of popular websites are obliged to control the content - to delete or block any access to dangerous links, ban users who were noticed in fraud, etc., and despite numerous antivirus and software blocking malware, dangerous links, and filters the content basing on the user (e.g. parent’s preferences), the chance of meeting unwanted content by a child are still high. Therefore, the majority of research and information on the matter say that child’s safety online is an individual war of their parents. In addition, a great portion of studies says that the more a child is aware of online threats, the more careful in using the web he/she becomes (Holloway, Green & Livingstone 12). To confirm such a statement, the recent study by OfCom (2016) showed that with the growing awareness of parents and the public about online threats the numbers who say they have had negative online encounters are moderately low. Family is likewise destined to be the wellspring of data about the conceivable dangers or dangers of the web; more than nine out of ten online 8-11s and 12-15s have been given data about these, with this well on the way to originate from a parent, trailed by an instructor. Nevertheless, this has diminished for 8-11s (92% versus 96%); because fewer 8-11s said they had been given data by a parent (OfCom 63-65 ). Based on this, the solutions proposed are mostly personal and aimed at raising awareness. According to Greenfield's research, simple methods of control are useful enough and show a positive trend in increasing children's awareness about internet threats and the prevention of Internet addiction in children.
The second piece of advice is not to put the computer in the child’s room. It is proposed to install the computer in the living room or in the parent’s room where one can easily control what the child is doing on the Internet. However, such a solution is outdated due to the spread of tablets and smartphones (Jones & Park 5). Here, the advice is to install spying programs on the devices used or put filters. Spying programs, psychologies say, are not desired o be used since they influence the trustworthy relations between a child and his parent and this violates the child’s privacy. The child himself can easily turn off filters, in their turn, as children are usually more computer-intelligent than their parents. However, OfCom research claims that little minority of 12-15s say they have crippled channels or parental controls. Despite most youngsters having data about remaining safe on the web, few 12-15s say they are occupied with conceivably hazardous online exercises: they are more probable to state they have erased their history records (17% versus 11%), corrected the settings to use a web program in security mode (10% versus 6%) and crippled any channels or controls (3% versus 1%) (National Center for Education and Statistics 73). The number of children correcting the filters and limiters imposed is rather low, but they exist. Hence, such advice doubtfully is useful.
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Finding out what the child likes to do on the Internet is another clue proposed to caregivers. Some online games in which the action takes place in fantasy worlds with thousands of players around the world are fascinating and are less harmful, but instead develop strategic thinking and planning skills, despite being violent. However, the portion of online games should be strictly regulated, say Holloway, Green & Livingstone (p. 16-17) to avoid gaming addition. Additionally, the gaming content should also be age-appropriate and not money demanding. Game-playing may be beneficial for the child’s future as a means to earn money – the prize funds of gamers competitions are rather high, but it is worth remembering that a professional interest and addiction are closely related and a parent should control the situation for it not to become an abuse. Coming back to familiarization with the child’s preferences online, the parent or caregiver should be able to understand and accept, but regulate and filter what the child is doing online. This can be achieved by knowing what he/she prefers doing and can be a good instrument for building a closer relationship with a child.
Finally, one of the most widespread pieces of advice is not to give children a bad example. Do not spend too much time at the computer; do not bring a laptop or tablet everywhere. Active rest with the whole family will help the child to switch to real life. It is necessary to teach and play with a child other games in a real-life, show the fay of finding information not using the computer, and teach them to enjoy life where the internet is a comfortable place for search and study, not for a living (Jones & Park 4). Then the Internet will be a help in learning, an auxiliary means of searching for information and communication, and not a way to escape from reality and escape from problems. Nevertheless, this advice is useful for that parents who themselves are not influenced by the web. Unfortunately, 17 % of adults are already internet-addicted (The US Department of Commerce) and not surprisingly, children are copying such a behavior. Therefore, it is required to raise awareness and educate, first of all, adults, for them to be able to transfer the knowledge to children. For this purpose, there are numerous courses and materials from different organizations – starting with commercial websites to governmental resources both offline and inline. It is important to remember that internet safety is a matter of education, not of total control and limitations.
The usefulness of education and training for internet safety is confirmed by the statistical data. For instance, after the training on personal information and the Internet an extensive share of children and adolescents (71%) have set up online profiles (counting those on informal communication locales, for example, Facebook, Friendster, and Xanga), up from 61% from the earlier year 69% of adolescents frequently get individual messages online from individuals they do not know and the majority of them do not enlighten a trusted grown-up regarding it (National Center for Education and Statistics 73-74). Youngsters promptly post individual information on the web. 64% post photographs or recordings of themselves, while the greater part (58%) post information about where they live. Females are much more probable than male adolescents to post individual photographs or recordings of themselves (70% versus 58%) about one of every 10 teenagers (8%) has posted his or her wireless number on the web (Ofcom 65). In general, 19% of teenagers report they have been badgered or tormented on the web, and the frequency of online provocation is higher (23%) among 16 and 17-year-olds. Young ladies will probably be pestered or tormented more than young men (21% versus 17%). Almost 50% of youth (47%) are not stressed over others utilizing their data in ways they do not need (even though that speaks to a 10-rate point change over the earlier year). About half (49%) are unconcerned that posting individual information online may contrarily influence their future (National Center for Education and Statistics 74; OfCom 65). Most bosses now do a scan for their imminent representatives. With a portion of the data and pictures found on Facebook, they ought to be concerned.
Raising awareness about internet safety is not only a patent concern. Children's online safety is a problem being solved on a national level – the governments are constantly creating educational programs for parents and children, the matter is integrated into the school curriculum, etc. (National Center for Education and Statistics 74). Moreover, the acuteness of the problem led to its wide discussion in media – there are bunches of articles in popular magazines and newspapers, motion pictures dedicated to the problem (Cyberbully, directed by Ben Chanan) as well TV Series (The Black Mirror on Netflix). Constant cyber-attacks, personal information leakage to the web, and virus attacks are highlighted on the news. Such interest in the problem raises the awareness of internet users and works as a good example of the danger of being inaccurate when using the web.
Benefits of the Internet to Children
There are terabytes of data about the drawback of children online - negative impacts go from less open-air recess to contact with sexual stalkers. In any case, today it is impossible to stay away from the internet at all – it is used everywhere and for various purposes. Additionally the articulated advantages of going online overweight the risks. Web access can enable children to end up noticeably more inventive and informative, as indicated by Holloway, Green & Livingstone (15-17). Internet utilization can likewise enhance scholastic development and open children to universes they will not experience generally.
It is not just that we get to benefits the school life, young people without web access at home are instructively distraught. From the public statement: while the current research claims about parental nervousness about the capability of informal communication locales to occupy their posterity, and demonstrates that a few parents lose hope at their children's propensity to multitask on cell phones, the examination by Oxford University’s Department of Education (cited in Holloway, green & Livingstone 17) infers that there are generous instructive preferences in young people having the capacity to get to the web at home. Young people who do not approach the web in their homes have a solid feeling of being “instructively hindered.” Since the Internet has given a great opportunity to enhance communication skills, children not using the web are said to be less willing to communicate online. In a Nebraska venture, youths utilized email to speak with senior natives in their group, and the outcome was expanded open doors for getting the hang of, holding, and comprehension (Holloway, Green & Livingstone 17). Kids can likewise utilize the internet to speak with individuals from their more distant families, and if there should arise an occurrence of a move, children can keep in contact with companions from their old neighborhood.
Internet use grows children’s worldview, as per Holloway, Green & Livingstone (p. 15). Youths in rustic areas can pay virtual visits to workmanship historical centers; city children can find out about ranches and woodlands. Finally, the internet exponentially expands alternatives for inventive development and masterful articulation, as indicated by the United States Department of Commerce. Internet permit children of many age gatherings to create aesthetic abilities in photography, film production, drawing, and design.
Taking into account all above mentioned, it can be said that there are numerous benefits for children using the internet. The proposed public and personal methods are rather useful to allow the benefits of the web to outweigh the risks. For instance, with the development of educational programs children are more probable to state they loathe seeing matters that influence them to feel tragic, panicked or humiliated, and to say they are concerned regards to individuals being terrible, mean, or unkind to them (OfCom 67). There have been increments in the numbers who say they hate seeing substance that influences them to feel miserable, alarmed, or humiliated on TV (an expansion from 6% to 10% of 12-15s), and in diversions (from 6% to 11% of 8-11s). Youth aged 8-11 and 12-15 are likewise more probable to express scope of different worries about the dangers of being web-based, including about “individuals being terrible, mean or unkind to me,” and will probably express worries about the recreations they play, additionally including individuals being awful, mean or unkind to them.
To end with, it is important to mention that it is not required to close access to the web to children since it is impossible in today’s reality. There are several types of threats the children are subjected to online – identity theft, fraud, online perpetrators, addition, etc. However, all the risks can be reduced by proper parental control and education, raising awareness of a child and parents, and proper interest in the problem. Besides being dangerous, the internet has numerous benefits that outweigh the risks of being online, especially in today’s internet era.