While SEO is a bad thing for grown-ups and the Internet itself, there are a lot of more important threats of the Internet, which are harmful for the most vulnerable category of the society: kids. The thing is that kids process information very fast, but often are too naive to filter it. Thus, they may take some things as guideline for their future life and development. Unfortunately, the Internet is full of unacceptable content even for grown-ups, and it is a must to work towards making this content unavailable for kids.
Why are we saying that the Internet can bring harm to children? Well, these words are supported by the research results. Take a look on them.
- Children get to “bad” websites twice as often as grown-ups due to their natural curiosity.
- More than 80% of pupils have accounts on social networks.
- 70% of pupils indicate their proper name and surname, age and name of their school properly.
- 40% of pupils are ready to bring online communication into reality.
- 30% pupils made their personal data accessible to the whole world.
- More than 28% of pupils are ready to send their photos to strangers online.
- 17% of pupils do not hesitate to tell their personal info (information about themselves, their parents, place of living, the schedule of their parents, availability of some valuable things in their houses, etc.) For some reasons, they do not think why such information is needed for a stranger on the web.
- 22% of pupils accidentally or on purpose visit websites with content for adults from time to time.
- 28% of children having seen the advertising of tobacco products or alcohol drinks were interested and tried to get them.
- 14% of children from time to time buy online games or accessories for them and rarely pay attention to the amount of money spend.
To understand the full range of threats, let us review the classification of them. The risks can be divided into 4 groups.
- Content Risks
- Communicative Risks
- Electronic Risks
- Consumers’ Risks
Some threats get children involved in dependency, others develop the hostility between nations. There are threats that deal with the negative impact on the child’s psychologic development, ruining the ability of real communication and twisting their outlook. There may also be a damage to the soft- and hardware due to downloading of infected files from the unreliable sources.
Issue with Online Interaction (Games)
Children like to play, and this the fact. It is scientifically proved, that children process information easier if it is delivered in the form of a game. However, there may be different games. The ones that can be found on the Internet and played online, are very often connected with violence. The game developers do their best to make the games more true-to-life, with the best graphics, so the child can actually feel like they are in the real world. A child is given an opportunity to purchase weapon as well; weapon is virtual, but money is often pretty much real. Interaction with real people through the web make it all even more real. A lot of research has been carried out on the issue of violent behavior in computer games, but we still cannot be sure whether it has an impact on the real-life activities of a child and their psychological development.
One can even find online games with pornographic content, and gaming is what is especially interesting for children, making it possible for them not only to view but also take actions in virtual pornographic acts.
Prevention of the Risks
What are the main prevention measures that can be taken to avoid the negative outcomes mentioned?
Increasing the Awareness of Parents
Everything starts from awareness. Parents should understand that the Internet is not a toy and be aware of all the threats. They should also teach their children to resist to the challenges and temptations, which may be harmful to their future.
This is actually a continuation of the previous point. Parents can set a parental control for their children’s computers. Parental control – is the type of programs and services, which help parents control the way the child uses computer: starting from filtration of the web content and managing the contacts of e-mail up to setting limits for the Internet communication. A lot of parental control options are a part of anti-virus programs.
Proper Education in Schools
Unfortunately, educational systems are often late to reflect modern issues that need to be taken into account while bringing the children up. Thus, the system of education should pay more attention to children’s using the Internet properly. They are often required to search for information on the web, which will be helpful for their research and creative writing, but still, they do not know how to filter information properly and disregard all the negative impacts the Internet can bring them.
Taking Measures on the Internet Censorship
There should be some mechanisms developed to make sure that children cannot access the unacceptable content. For now, in most of the websites, one needs to click “Yes” on the question “Are you 18+ years old?” Nothing prevents a minor from clicking “Yes.” Thus, there should be a web censor separating an adult content from the children’s access. The healthy generation and psychologically stable future adults with the decrease in rates of crimes should be the priority for those, who work on the development of the internet.
Kids are our future, so what kind of future do we want? Nothing is perfect in this world, but this does not mean that we should not do our best to work on brilliance. And there is no a better way to make something perfect then to remove or at least reduce its negative influence and features. The Internet is not an exception.