More and more children at an increasingly younger age are starting to use chat apps such as Blackberry Messenger and other social media platforms to communicate with people, sometimes halfway around the world.  These days, it is not uncommon to find seven or eight year old children showing off their personal Facebook pages-  in clear violation of the minimum age requirement of 13 years of age; something virtually unheard of just a few years prior.

Technology Is Here to Stay

Like it or not, parents can be sure of one thing – technology is here to stay and no one can stem the tide of technological advancement.  Nonetheless, parents’ fears and concerns are valid given the clear and potential danger that lurks in cyberspace from the likes of sexual predators, confidence tricksters and scammers.

Is Technology Evil?

The advent of technology in the information age that we now live in is both a blessing and a source of headache to young parents everywhere.  On the one hand, technology has removed barriers to communication, making it possible for people continents apart to communicate in real-time, in rich media, no less.  On the other hand, the very function that technology enables, i.e., communication or more specifically, the ease of communication, using platforms such as Facebook and Yahoo Messenger – is precisely the source of worry for many a concerned parent.

It must be said though that technology inherently, is neither good nor bad.  It is a source of power much like water or electricity are sources of power which can be harnessed for a positive purpose or conversely, and if not used carefully, can lead to accidents of a fatal nature.   Hence that question of whether your child is too young to chat is no longer as relevant as perhaps, to what extent should I allow my child to chat using mobile or computer-based apps? And do I know what he or she is doing (or saying) by way of these chat platforms? Finally, what can I as a parent do to safeguard my child from unsavory characters and being negatively influenced or duped by scammers?

Parenting in the Information Age

In this somewhat bewildering world of apps and chats that parents live in, some common sense rules might help to safeguard your child’s chatting experience and bring peace of mind.  These are:

  • Make Education A Priority.  It is virtually an imperative for parents today to arm themselves with the knowledge of what their children are doing online and which website(s) they are visiting so as to stay informed at all times and to be in a position of readiness to act should your child stray into danger.
  • Assert Parental Control.  Parents need to set limitations, boundaries and clear rules before allowing their children to engage in chats and other behaviors they engage in online such as whom they can “add” as a friend on chat platforms.  Make your child take responsibility for his or her action and have him or her account for what do online.
  • Use Internet Protection Software.  Internet protection software such as Net Nanny allows parents access to their children’s data activity and usage.  In addition, it empowers parents with greater control over their children’s online experience by giving them control of online content, thereby creating a safer digital experience for their children.
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