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This might come as a shocker to most parents but a recent study showed that 7.5 million Facebook users are underage! Yes, that is number of Facebook users who are below the age of 13. And of course, they have to lie to stay active on the social networking site.
While the survey shows that Facebook browsing exposed more than 5 million American households in the last year to some form of abuse, including viruses and identity theft, in India too, underage kids are using Facebook without parental supervision.
What’s even more troubling was is that a majority of parents of kids 10 and under seemed largely unconcerned by their children’s use of the site! Guess they haven’t seen the obscene content doing the rounds and haven’t heard of online abuse and cyber-bullying either, huh?
Well, for those of you who want to know how to protect your kids from harmful content on the Internet, here are a fewparenting tips to help you out:
1. Encourage your child to hang out with friends, go for movies or have sleepovers rather than connect with friends on social networking sites that open them up to all kinds of dangerous elements.
2. While kids must learn to use computers and that includes the Internet, avoid unlimited usage. Allot a specific time in the day (preferably when you are in the house) for your child to browse the Internet or download child-friendly content. About half an hour of surfing should be good enough unless she needs to get a school project done.
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3. If your kid likes playing games on the computer, install softwares for him that don’t require Internet access.
4. Help your child use the Internet wisely. You could recommend certain sites that might be educational or fun too. However, this does not mean your child will never come across harmful/ disturbing content. Also explain to him why you’d like her to stay away from social networking sites till she is of the right age.
5. Educate your child about the evils of the Internet – adult content, hate sites and violence. Ask him to inform you in case he comes across such content so that you can take the necessary precautions to protect him from these in future.
6. Install blocking software on your computer that blocks access to certain objectionable sites and prevent children from disclosing personal information on the Internet. This will help you restrict your child’s access to certain sites you feel aren’t appropriate.
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