The Internet is both a marketplace and a library: while thousands of companies are vying for the attention and money of consumers, thousands of informational materials are available to cater to everyone’s need to learn. The age of Web 2.0 has also turned the Internet into a soundboard for the world’s whines and pains, as blogs, diaries, and e-books proliferate. As the information age comes, so does the age of uncensored free expression, where everyone and anyone can post his or her thoughts online, in any shape, manner, or form.
As the once valued prize of privacy is constantly being violated online, and as the lack of private thoughts is lauded on the very much open World Wide Web, the privacy of Internet users is becoming more and more an issue. Credit card theft runs rampant on the Internet, due to the ability of hackers to get into home computers and bank records to retrieve the information they need. Whole websites can be destroyed by malicious software. Students lose years of information and files after their computers are damaged by viruses.
There is a privacy of a different sort at play when Internet usage is concerned. It involves the right of every human being to read, view, and listen to what they want online. This privacy is something that every website owner holds dear, hence the lack of inhibitions on the Internet. Anyone interested in reading more about the Middle Ages is given a chance to do so, thanks to various history-related websites that feature timelines, footage of reenactments, and even pictures of important historical sites. Anyone who wants to cook can do so, and well, thanks to online culinary courses, and free recipes.
At the same time, anyone who wants to read or view pornographic materials can do so on one of the millions of pornography websites available online. Anyone who wants to see footage of child prostitutes can do so through websites linked to the sex trade. Anyone who wants to steal your credit card, your children, and your life can find a link to you, hunt you down, and do what they want with you and your possessions.
All these claims may seem overblown, but with the lack of inhibitions online, and lack of security of most websites, they aren't entirely unfounded. According to research, over a quarter of all families surveyed become victims of credit card fraud and identity theft because their children were preyed on by seemingly trustworthy online thieves. Thousands of children are kidnapped each year by predators who introduce themselves as well-meaning adults in forums or chat rooms. Even more children are abused, sold to the slave or sex trades, or exploited.
So should you violate your child’s right to see what he or she wants online? The answer is a resounding yes. You as the parent have the right to safeguard your child’s interests, and it is certainly in your best interest to protect your child from disturbing images, lewd materials, and possible predators. It is you duty to raise your child in the best way possible, and to do everything in your power to give your child the chance to be a better member of society.
You also have the duty to monitor your child’s computer activities, which is especially important if your child has his or her own computer, and his or her own unlimited access to the Internet. You may get into quarrels with your child, so be persuasive, not defensive or combative. You must explain briefly how your intrusion is for his or her good.
How do you check your child’s computer activities? An easy way would be to check your child’s history folder, which you can access through the Internet browser. Through this, you can see what files and sites your child has accessed and when. Your child, however, may constantly erase the contents of his or her history folder. If you check your child’s computer regularly and find that this is the case, check the Internet options to see if your child has set the computer to never store items in the history folder. If the computer has been set to store items, but the history folder is empty, then you may have to confront your child. Incessant erasing of history folder items may be a sign that your child is accessing pornographic sites.
You may also need to check your child’s email, especially his or her deleted items, which can contain items that are being hidden, out of parents’ reach. If you have the time, check any recently downloaded or saved files, and see the nature of these files. All of these measures may be difficult to do if your child’s computer has a password, or if certain files are hidden or hard to find, but you will certainly find a way to investigate your child’s activities as a caring, helping parent.
The Internet may be a cruel world for a child to walk through, but if you have the right principles and the heart of a truly devoted parent, then you can walk through this world together. All you need is perseverance and patience, and the ability to monitor your child’s activities, so that his or hers, and consequently, your privacy is protected.
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