Growing Up Instafast

Times have changed. Children are growing up in a society in which people rarely write letters, or meet face to face to resolve issues. In this day and age, children prefer to text under their desks instead of scribbling and tossing notes back and forth during class. Technology can be very helpful, but how much is too much?

It seems that every parent struggles with setting the rules on his child’s use of technology. Sure, the Internet made researching and writing essays for school very convenient, but how safe is it to let your child browse the internet without supervision? This topic has stirred some heated conversations over the years. This may be one of the reasons why the United Nations Agencies partnered with Child Online Protection Initiative, to release a set of guidelines on promoting the safety of children using the Internet.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 13 states that “the child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice.” Children should therefore not be deprived of the right to access information important for their growth and well-being, but the content must be appropriate for the age group.

The guidelines underline both beneficial and harmful effects of technology on children’s lives. They provide a list of the major problems including cyberbullying and access to inappropriate content. More importantly, the guidelines call on the information and communication technology industry (ICT) to implement changes to aid in protecting online presence of children.

Both parties believe that the role of parent participation in these efforts is crucial. The guidelines stress the importance of parental control tools and awareness-raising education for caregivers. There are several websites providing useful tips for parents on keeping their children safe in the online environment. Popular parental control tools include obtaining all of the children’s passwords and not allowing messaging apps till the age of 13. The online world will likely never be an entirely safe environment, but combining our efforts could get us very close to the ideal.

How can we help ensure the safety of children online? What laws should be enacted to support these efforts?

UN News Centre Guidelines for Online Safety eKids Consulting iKeepSafe UNICEF

5 comments

  1. It’s interesting to see how the controlling aspect of technology is emerging. With a wealth of platforms available and the children’s right to express themselves via those platforms expanding, more and more organizations and industries seek to regulate how such freedoms are performed. I think it’s important here to recognize all the players that currently are involved and invested in our children’s means of communication as well as their future. One thing that has not changed since the days of parental television controls, is the importance of a children’s parents, guardians and adult supervisors. Regardless of the organizations and future laws imposed no force is stronger in a child’s life than that of their parents or guardians. The combination of combative efforts with outside sources will ensure safer uses of technology but it must begin at the home. The earlier provisions are instituted by parental units, the more beneficial they will be to the children, their peers and the technology universe in general.

  2. Having the ITC protect the online presence of the children is a good start, but depending on what is being protected the rights of parents and children may be infringed. In order to ensure the safety of children online it starts with the parents and caregivers at home. The guidelines given to parents are a good start, but ultimately it is the parent’s choice as to when and what they allow their children to view. I’m not sure if a law being enacted would be the best thing to block a child’s Internet use. I agree with Article 13 of the Convention on the Rights of the Children; however, there must be some limits on what is available to children at a young age. This limitation would be very hard to implement as a law, rather is something that would be best if started at home.

  3. I think the growth in technology is a huge problem that generations to come will have to face in trying to figure out what content and how much content should be restricted when it comes to their children. Nowadays children are a lot more advanced as they are using iPhone’s, iPad’s and even laptops as young as five years old. Password protection and even setting up parental controls is not as secure as it once was since children can go to a friend’s house to access their computers or even go on computers at school to access information online. I think parental supervision is important, but also school administrators and teachers need to monitor online activity by children while they are at school. There is a need for more protections at the community level because even young children are figuring out ways to go around adult supervision.

    Cyberbullying is a huge issue for children since it is so easy to post from various accounts such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and Tumblr. There needs to be better reporting methods of suspicious or dangerous activity on these sites since so much content goes unregulated. Fixing this problem of course starts with the parents, but social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook also need to implement better safeguards and controls to protect children from being bullied online or from having access to obscene content. It is only when social media, parents, schools, and the community work together, that maybe stronger laws will be enacted to protect children’s online activity and access.

  4. It is always fascinating when a preschooler can navigate an iPad, iPhone, or laptop faster than my mother can, but there are also dangers and cautions that must be noted. It has become more and more apparent that access to the Internet/technology has become both a blessing and a curse, especially in regards to children. I believe that the Internet, with its mass social networking, online gaming, and interactive media takes a significant toll on the traditional social skills obtained during childhood. Children are less and less likely to be playing outside with one another, and instead sitting in front of a screen alone for hours. It is undeniable that the Internet is an amazing mode of obtaining information and expression, which every child deserves the right to take advantage of. However, limitations on this access and this expression are necessary for underage children.

    From a legal aspect, it has likely always been a complex task to tell a parent how to raise their child. I think it is always difficult to enforce legislation that regulates a relationship inside the home. However, I agree, that collective parental, community, and educational guidelines may assist in protecting children from the dangers of the Internet. For example, schools can strongly encourage that parents supervise and place time limits on all Internet access for children under a certain age. Schools may also ensure that educational material and assignments do not always require technological instruments (fingers-crossed that the mode of handwriting assignments is not dead just yet). Legislation can probably more readily take authority over Internet access outside of the individual home. For instance, community access, such as computers within schools or libraries may be required to have stringent restricted Internet access with filtering systems, and password protections. This issue must be addressed tactfully, as it is likely to become complex in time.

  5. Times have definitely changed. Today, children are growing up in a society that relies so much on technology. Children these days can use IPhones, IPads, computers, and other technology devices faster than a lot of adults can. Technology can be very helpful to children for a number of reasons. However, technology also has side effects and we need to ensure the safety of children, who use the Internet.

    I believe more has to be done in order to protect children online. I agree with Article 13, but we still need to prevent younger children from certain content that is available. Children are very smart these days and know how to use technology devices very well. Thus, parents need to make sure they monitor their children’s online usage and have passwords to prevent their children from accessing certain content. In today’s society cyberbullying is a serious issue. Therefore, any measures that can be taken to help prevent cyberbullying should be taken. Parents should inform their children about the harms of cyberbullying and tell them not to participate in such activities. Also, social media sites should try to help prevent cyberbullying by creating better safeguards and programs, which send alerts when certain content is being said or shared. Overall, technology is a great tool to help children learn but if certain measures are not taken it could cause more harm than good.

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