The world our children are growing up in looks very different from the world in which we were raised. Technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate, changing the world before our very eyes. As digital natives, children spend an average of 40 hours a month online, with many children spending much more than this on the internet. Most parents recognize the need for digital parenting, but still don't feel they can completely protect their children online.
Do you know what your kids are really doing online? The latest edition of the Norton Online Family Report sheds new light on the risks and realities of growing up in the digital age. There is a big difference between what kids say they are doing online and what their parents think they are doing.
"Kids are developing their online identity at an earlier age than ever before," said Vanessa Van Petten, author of Radical Parenting, "and they need parents, teachers and other role models to help them figure out where to go, what to say, how to act and most importantly, how not to act. Negative situations online can have repercussions in the real world -- from bullying to money lost in scams to giving strangers personal information."
While 77 percent of parents have house rules for their kids' use of the internet, most parents remain unsure of what their children are doing during all those hours of screen time. 33 percent of parents have secretly checked their kids' online activities and 25 percent have checked their kids' social networks without their knowledge. "Having an open dialogue with kids in a safe environment like at home or school can be much more effective, along with arming children with the tools they need to stay safe," explained Marian Merritt, Norton Internet Safety Advocate.
Rather than falling into the trap of parental blind spots, setting up parental controls is an effective way to keep tabs on what your children are doing online. Norton Online Family offers a free product developed specifically to help parents monitor their children's online activities. The good news is that kids who are best protected from negative online experiences live in families with household rules and are trying not to break them.
With an open line of communication, parental controls can become an added layer of security -- helping parents to set time limits, blocking inappropriate sites and providing a detailed reporting on what children are doing on the web. Get involved and help your children stay safe online.
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