Internet Safety - Internet Family Fun
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At What Age Should Children Be Allowed Online Alone
Here Is How To Decide
Kids love to go online. There is so much to explore and learn. At what age should you allow your child to go online by themselves? The answer to the question is as difficult as determining at what age a child can be left at home by themselves, since all children are different. With determining at what age a child can go online by themselves, not only does that include whether they are ready to go it by themselves but it also includes determining how gullable they are, determining their ability to spot danger, and their level of computer literacy.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine what is right for your child. As you answer these questions, remember that it is hard to objectively look at your child and his or her abilities.
Are they ready to go online by themselves?
Of course if you are trying to determine if you can let him or her go online, your child has probably already said, "I'm ready, I can handle it". But are they? Unfortunately there is a lot of objectionable material online and if you don't have a filter or parental controls, how would they handle seeing that material if they ran across it accidently?
How gullable is your child?
I have two sons and one believes every television commercial he sees and the other one is a born skeptic and questions everything he sees. This has nothing to do with age but with individual personalities. What if either one was approached by an online predator that claimed to be another kid online? Probably my skeptic would question it long before my believer would but either could still be taken it. Does your child question other people's motives or do they easily believe anything that presented to them? It is an important question to ask to determine if your child is ready to go it alone.
Have you educated them what the dangers are?
There are a lot of dangers online. Not only are there predators and pornography but there are also scams trying to get personal information. Have you explained what pornography is, in case they run across it accidently? Have you explained to them that there are people out there that could want to do them harm? It is a dangerous world out there and if you are going to let them wander around in the online world, they need to be prepared for what they might see or run into.
Is your child proficient at the use of the computer and aware of the dangers that are online that can do your computer harm?
Unscrupulous ads, viruses, and spyware are every where online and they can do harm to your computer. Are they savvy enough to spot ads verses real computer warning windows? I know I have almost been fooled a few times. Do they realize not to install programs without your permission? Your computer is a large investment and unfortunately spyware and viruses can do real damage.
Does your child feel comfortable coming to you when something goes wrong?
You may be thinking this is a strange question to ask yourself, but what would happen if they ran into pornography accidently? Would they be afraid that they were in trouble so they wouldn't tell you for fear of losing computer privileges? If they were emailing with someone that was requesting strange things that made them uncomfortable, would they tell you because they know you would "over-react" and make a big deal out of it? Of my sons, my "believer" would tell me quickly but my "skeptic" would probably never tell me because he would have a hard time admitting that he was in over his head. If they don't tell you so you can talk it over, it could leave them with emotional scars or leave them in danger.
I wish I had an easy answer for determining at what age a child can go online by themselves. There are many dangers online and many variables with each individual personality - only you can decide when they are ready.
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