Our children live in a world of technology and from a very young age they will be experimenting with this technology as part of their everyday life. Using computers, mobiles, and the Internet is commonplace for our children. Access to this technology is avaiable in a number of places.
Home: Most homes in Australia are gradually gaining access to computers and the Internet.
Friends: Many children that do not have access to a computer at home will often have a number of friends that do have a computer and access to the Internet.
School: In Australia our children have access to computers from Primary school and even some preschools are now offering access to computers and learning related computer programs.
Libraries: school and public libraries are providing increasing access to computers and the Internet.
Public Internet locations: Apart from Internet cafes, many shopping centres now provide timed access to computers for Internet access.
Internet enabled mobile phones: Almost all mobile phone can now connect to the Internet.
Games: Many popular gaming consoles can be played online.
The TV, Newspapers, and magazines: These may not provide physical access to a computer or the Internet but many of them are filled with information and links for Internet sites.
Accessing the Internet has never been so easy, and most of the time you will not be there to supervise your children when they do access the Internet. This is why it is important that we regularly sit down with own children, from as early an age as possible and teach them how to keep safe when online. Just like you teach your child the dangers of crossing the road or walking home alone for the first time.
Your children need to feel comfortable talking with you about their experiences while online. Make sure that they understand that you need to know if anything inappropriate appears or happens, that you will support and help them and not make any judgements against them.
If you punish your child when you find out that they have viewed an inappropriate site, you will make it harder for them to come to you if something else happens. The best action is to explain to them why what they are viewing is not appropriate and explain the dangers associated to doing so. Let them know that you understand that they may have accidentally come across the site, or that they may have been sent the link from a friend. Whatever the situation, make it clear that you are there to explain and help, just as you will always be.
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