Childcare Question: Should a Parent Control a Child’s Computer Use?

Whether or not a parent should control a child’s computer use is an issue that not everyone agrees on. Some feel that as parents, controlling PC access and computer usage is just another parental responsibility. Others feel such parent controls infringe on a child’s rights. If you’re unsure, take a closer look at these reasons why parent control of a child’s computer use is so important.

Kids software may not be suitable
If you’ve ever browsed your local electronics store you know that kids software is big business. The majority of the kids software packages are either educational or designed purely for pleasure. But it’s not all suitable for children, a huge reason why parent control is so crucial. You as a parent have the right (and an obligation) to not purchase any kids software you deem unsuitable for your children, so exercise it!

Know what you are purchasing BEFORE you purchase it. Take a few moments to read the packaging to see what the kids software does. You can also go online where you can search for and read reviews of the kids software. Only if you are satisfied should you go ahead and make the purchase.

But what about kids software that your children stumble across while online? If your children watch television or listen to the radio, they cannot escape the constant web site marketing that takes place with every commercial interruption, especially on those stations targeting children.

Restricting PC access has benefits
The children who know how to get on the Internet go to these web sites and once there, they’re bombarded with things to see and do. Much of the activities are geared towards subtly extracting personal information from your child. While most web site operators have only good intentions in mind, like future marketing to your child, giving out personal information isn’t a good habit to get into (read more Child Online Safetips here). A parent can control this situation by outlining and enforcing rules pertaining to accessing these web sites and computer use in general.

It’s difficult to come to an opinion though without knowing the children involved and for some it’s probably more appropriate than others. For example an 16 year old who is using the computer for ecommerce or learning may be just as at risk as someone who is simply downloading music.  Take for instance a teenager I knew who was investing his pocket money in buying sneakers online.  He was effectively operating in some sort of grey market using proxies to grab copies of the latest trainers and selling them on at a profit.  It’s not illegal, perhaps unethical at worst, but would you want your child to be involved in this sort of behaviour.

Many certainly would as perhaps the nurturing of an entrepreneurial habit would be more beneficial than any vague moral lessons.  If you want to learn more about this subject may I recommend this post – Sneaker Proxies Explained.

Such rules that give a parent control over how and when their child uses the computer should also cover the topic of downloading music, games and kids software onto the home computer. Downloading kids software from a web site is always risky. You never know when your child might accidentally download a virus along with the kids software that could cause a system shutdown!

Another reason why a parent should control a child’s computer use and PC access is to keep the child safe while chatting. Kids love to talk to their friends and Internet chat rooms and instant messaging have become popular modes of communication. However, while online, it’s very difficult to keep track of everyone your child communicates with.

It’s not uncommon for the person with whom a child is chatting be someone different than who he or she claims to be.  Or they may simply be watching films or using their skills to bypass blocks. After all it’s perfectly possible for a young person to get unrestricted access to Netflix without parental consent.  A valid debit card, readily available now, and using some sort of proxy or VPN to unlock US Netflix is fairly simple to achieve.

Predators and scam artists are all over the Internet and only when a parent controls a child’s computer use and PC access can parents protect against the dangers that might be lurking. So take control

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