The Internet: Is It a Risk or an Opportunity for Your Child? YES!!

Let’s face it. The cyberworld, with all its knowledge, gaming, social media, and videos has taken up residence in our homes…and it’s here to stay.

Some families respond to the cyberworld with fear…and rightly so. It is filled with risk.

Other families respond to the cyberworld with joy and anticipation…and rightly so. It is filled with opportunities.

In fact, the cyberworld has both risks and opportunities, just like every other facet of life that our children encounter. I love the graphic on page 8 of this presentation. It shows the risk and opportunity of both the cyberworld and the non-cyberworld. YouTube presents risks and opportunities in a similar fashion as movies, twitter as the social gathering at a park, amazon as a bookstore, and so forth. Perhaps two of the biggest differences between the spaces being compared in this graphic are how familiar we, as parents, are with each one and how easily we can shelter our children from the risks while affording them the opportunities. Nonetheless, they both carry risks and opportunities.

What can a parent do to limit the risks of the cyberworld while affording their children the chance to enjoy the opportunities? The first thing to do is to educate yourself about the cyberworld as best you can.

  • Talk with your children about various social media sites, games, or video cites. I don’t mean educate them. Let them educate you. I talked with young man last week who talked about several groups focused on improving society through their Facebook or YouTube accounts.  
  • Engage the cyberworld with your child. Play some games with them. Watch videos together. Share videos with one another. As you learn about social media, interact with our children via social media.
  • Learn firsthand about the cyberworld and its “draw.” As you do, share with your children what you learn and how you have established personal boundaries to maintain the cyberworld as a tool in our life rather than letting it become your “master.”

As with so many aspects of parenting, the best way to teach our children is to begin by being a good role model. Let them see you manage the cyberworld in a healthy manner. Let them see how you limit the risk and emphasize the opportunities. It’s only a beginning, but a great beginning it is!

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