Digital citizenship: protecting children from adverse information or restricting personal space

04 Jun 2019 12:10 pm, by YorkshireSquare

The advent of the Internet has started the informatization era, opened boundless opportunities for online learning and entertainment. Young people can conduct a profound research, use online encyclopedias, communicate on educational forums, and consult famous experts from all over the world. At the same time, parents are concerned by the fact that misleading, violent, pornographic content is freely accessible on the web, seek ways to filter information their kids come across.

The problem is not in the lack of discipline and bad parenting. Not all children visit inappropriate sites intentionally. This often happens by accident. But once facing something they have never seen before, children want to receive more information. As a result, content unsuitable for their age group may have an adverse effect on an unprepared psyche.

Prohibiting online sessions is not an option. Not interacting with technology, a kid may grow into a caveman. One should be able to find the necessary content and use it for educational purposes. Basic computer skills will come in handy when building a career. Any employer is sure to ask whether a young specialist is able to work in browsers and reads online news related to one’s professional field.

It turns out that moms and dads have two contradicting goals: to protect their children from undesirable content and to raise tech-savvy, socially adapted digital citizens able to handle technology.

It is worth remembering that kids are very curious, and fruit always tastes sweeter when it is forbidden. A child will use all potential ways to explore adult content and keep one’s actions secret. Agree, it is unpleasant to know that your son or daughter is sneaking behind your back.

Many people see the best way out in using parental filtering programs allowing to control the Internet use without fully prohibiting online pastime. Experts from Pro-Papers service, that provides term paper writing help, have analyzed the main pros and cons of such software and outlined them.

Advantages of parental filtering software

Here are the benefits which you, the parent, may receive:

• Your child will not have access to websites with materials depicting violence and pornography, avoid cyber bullies and scammers striving to get money from naive young web users.
• You will see what your kid is doing online at each moment of time, prevent wrong decisions by using a digital barrier. For example, if a child is going to send money to a bully or share personal information with suspicious interlocutors, actions may be taken to stop one.
• Filtering programs have customized settings tailored to different age groups. You can provide more web access as a kid matures, explain netiquette rules and help one to become a good digital citizen. At some moment, a young person will become independent and self-sufficient, and you will not be afraid that something may go wrong.

Disadvantages of parental filtering software

Each technology has both positive and negative aspects, and blocking programs are not an exception. Take into account the following downsides:

• Filtering software sometimes denies access to harmless and useful websites which kids want to study for educational purposes.
• Family relationships are worsened by distrust. It may be offending for a young person to realize that parents spy one on, do not believe that one is clever enough to make correct decisions.
• Some moms and dads fully rely on technology and forget that the main things a child needs to become a cautious digital citizen are parental care, unobtrusive recommendations, and answers to the questions one may ask.
• Dozens of websites emerge every day. You will have no time and energy to track them all.
• Modern children are tech-savvy and smart. It is quite possible that your son or daughter will find ways to bypass barriers, for example, install an unlocking application or use a classmate’s phone. Therefore, filtering software does not provide the 100% guarantee that young web users will not see adult content.

Communicate with a child

Many parents choose filtering software because they do not want to analyze the child’s thoughts and feelings or do not know how to do it correctly. Psychologists claim that prohibition is the last approach to try. Open communication is always better than restrictions and totalitarian control.
First of all, it is worth instructing a child on correct online behavior, explaining how the Internet may be used efficiently and safely. After all, you will not be able to track young person’s actions forever. There will be adult life when one should undertake responsibility for all actions taken and be able to protect oneself.

It would be great to introduce the topic “Digital citizenship” in a school curriculum. Technology development poses new tasks in front of the educational system. It is necessary to teach students not only to read, write and count, but also to live and achieve success in the modern world, in particular in the digital space.

Some schools have already supported this initiative. But, unfortunately, it is still a rarity rather than a common practice. In most cases, moms and dads have to work on the child’s online literacy on their own. Since they have busy schedules, no energy for analyzing young person’s knowledge and emotional state, blocking software seems to be the most convenient way out.
However, it is worth using filtering programs as a back-up option rather than a remedy for all problems, communicating one-on-one when a kid starts to use the Internet, explaining why each step is correct or wrong. This will help to develop useful online habits and behavior patterns, the whole psychology of networking. Once getting out of your control, a child will continue to use web resources in a safe and respectful way.

Make sure there is an atmosphere or trust in your family, do not treat a kid like a criminal doing something forbidden and deserving punishment. Children often want to do wrong things due to stubbornness, because parents have said to them “no”. Better loosen up the prohibitions after each lesson learned and give a kid more freedom.