As your child spends more time online, they will more likely be exposed to inappropriate content on the Internet. Your child might be playing games that are not age-appropriate, participating in social forums discussing adult content, or even watching live streams that talk about inappropriate content. Inappropriate content includes, but is not limited to, material directed at adults and thus unsuitable for children under 21, upsetting images and information, erroneous information that might provoke your child into illegal or risky behaviour like consuming or trafficking drugs.
Inappropriate content might affect your child’s mental and emotional health given that such content can contain violent imagery or offer a distorted view of reality. What are the warning signs that your child might be exposed to such inappropriate content online? Read on to learn more.
Unrestricted screen use, especially screen time lasting more than 2 hours daily, can be harmful to people, regardless of age group.
Your child is no exception.
Be aware of your child’s homework and school assignment responsibilities before determining if he or she is spending too much time on the screen. If you are concerned that your child might be exposed to harmful or inappropriate content when surfing the Internet without adult supervision, particularly at night, consider installing a parental application or software to limit or disable the Internet connection at night. If your child is secretly viewing Internet content at night that he or she doesn’t want you to know about, your child might resist your attempts to limit internet use.
If you notice that your child constantly changes screens when you approach, you might have reason to suspect that your child is uncomfortable with you knowing whatever was on the preceding screen. While it might be tempting to confront your child immediately on his or her behaviour, consider approaching this matter in a delicate way. Have a non-confrontational conversation with your child regarding content viewed and time spent on the Internet.
Besides your child’s bedroom, the bathroom is another part of your house that offers your child privacy to view inappropriate content without parental supervision. Once you notice your child regularly taking his or her mobile device, tablet or laptop into the bathroom, investigate further in a calm fashion. Bear in mind that your child could be simply viewing innocent content, such as viewing a video to give himself or herself a hair trim. Chances are however, that your child might be using his or her screen to view inappropriate content, again out of your gaze.
Another way to monitor if your child is exposing himself or herself to inappropriate online content would be to check the browser history on his or her electronic device. Your child’s browser history would certainly provide you with much information on his or her internet habits. Should you discover an empty browser history, especially more than once, you would have reason again to surmise that your child might have viewed some unsuitable or shameful content behind your back. Note that your child could have used an incognito window in order to hide what he or she has accessed.
You might have noticed that your once outspoken and expressive child has become a lot more withdrawn and defensive around the house lately. Also, he or she might be reacting less to events and people in the surroundings. Experts say that when a child habitually views inappropriate content, he or she might become more withdrawn and even desensitised to his or her surroundings. For example, your child might not be as interested in regular hobbies or social interactions. Regular family dinner conversations might seem boring or insignificant to him or her. Rather, whatever your child might be viewing on the screen might seem to be more stimulating or exciting for entertainment.
The last thing you would want to do is to confront your child in an aggressive manner. Chances are, if your child is really viewing inappropriate content on the Internet, he or she would vehemently deny it. In such situations, shouting or lecturing would most likely do more harm than good for your parent-child relationship. The key would be to maintain your composure and delicately broach the subject with your child at a suitable time and setting.
Another thing to note would be to give your child the benefit of the doubt and find out how and why he or she managed to find such inappropriate content. He or she could have clicked on an inappropriate advertisement by accident, for instance. Have a good chat with your child about the types of Internet content he or she might see to educate them on how to deal with inappropriate content. Also, consider downloading parental control applications and software to block access to certain unsuitable content via filters and to monitor what your child is doing.
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