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Parents Are Better Off Educating Than Monitoring on the Internet

By Davis March 22, 2013

teen using computerMove over Gen X and Y, because Gen Z is joining the social media realm and they’re connecting differently than you may think. Many parents are reportedly friends with their children on Facebook and if they’re really savvy, followers on Twitter. What they don’t realize is that their children are more than likely utilizing different platforms like Tumblr and YouTube.

When it comes to social media and Internet usage, it appears as though many parents are relying on monitoring to subvert online threats to their children. The problem is that kids are easily circumventing this and getting themselves into virtual hot water.

A recent study of kids aged 9 to 16-years-old by scientists at the University of Zurich found that nearly 40% had been exposed to sexually explicit online material, 25% had interacted with someone that they didn’t personally know, 7% met someone in real life that they were introduced to on the Internet, and 5% had been “cyberbullied.” Even more troubling than those findings was the revelation that parents significantly underestimate their occurrence.

The Toronto Police Service has published a brochure for parents to help educate their family with a tech-talk on Cyber Safety. It provides tips on blogging, web cams, cyber bullying, chat room behaviour and basic internet rules such as:

  •  Never say anything mean or untrue about someone online.
  •  Remember that anything posted online is public, not private information.
  •  Report online harassment or any messages that make you feel uncomfortable.
  •  Turn on your firewall and only download files from people or sites you know and trust.
  •  Remember that anything you do online is recorded. Changing your profile does not delete old
  • copies of it.

The Internet is a great place to share information and socialize. It is an important, yet powerful tool to be aware of its shortfalls with respect to teens today. If the next generation is aware of why and how they need to be cautious, then it can continue to be a fun and interactive space to be a part of.