A screenshot from GTA V, a game which is facing controversy over its large amount of violent and sexual content. Photo courtesy of www.craveonline.com
Violent content takes many forms, and none of them are good. Whether it’s in video games, images, video clips, or online stories, violence can and often does lead to terrible and tragic incidents. For instance, most people have heard of the two young girls that stabbed their friend to gain the approval of a fictitious online character known as the Slender Man. The victim survived, but the story is no less shocking and disturbing. The only way to curb these incidents and protect our children is to take steps to keep them away from these violent stories and images. Now, adults have varying tastes and some do enjoy action movies or even horror, but as adults they are equipped to handle the imagery without being so deeply affected. Still, too much violence or graphic imagery is not good for anyone.
Children, especially those under the age of seven, are very easily influenced and might perceive the violent content they see as if it were normal behavior. Violence breeds violence. Starting young is the key. You need to take steps to keep your children away from violent content, and though there are a number of things you can do, let’s focus on the most important ones as they will make the biggest difference.
Smartphones Aren’t So Smart – Many parents tend to give their kids a cellphone so that they can easily stay in touch and so that the child can call them anytime they need to do so. These days smartphones are what everybody wants. The ability to make calls coupled with other features such as internet access, YouTube, Facebook, and a myriad of available apps and games makes smartphones very enticing. However, children under 18 don’t need phones that complicated. There are too many things they could get into online and being mobile makes it hard to monitor properly. Instead, get your kids a standard phone just for calls and texts. That will allow you to keep in touch and give you the peace of mind in knowing your kids won’t get into anything they shouldn’t.
Keep the Media in the Middle – At home, you need to be able to keep track of your kids, especially when it comes to their activities on the computer. The best way to do this is to keep the computer in a central location in the home. That will allow you to easily keep watch on your kids while you clean house or do other household activities. Each time you pass by, you can take a quick peek at what your kids are doing and make sure they don’t get into anything you don’t approve of.
Restrictions Should Be the Rule, Not the Exception – Nowadays, most every type of device allows for restrictions to be placed on what types of content can be viewed or accessed. For example, the Nintendo Wii and other next gen console gaming systems such as the Xbox and PS3 have parental controls that allow you to select what your child can and cannot access through their portals and what types of games they can play, and of course there are a number of ways to block unwanted sites on your home computer as well. Don’t hesitate to employ one of these options. You can even check for software that can automate the restriction process so it’s easier for you to set up and maintain. Be sure you choose a good password that’s easy for you to remember and is also something your kids would be very unlikely to figure out.
Well Informed is Well Protected – As parents, you may or may not be as technologically savvy as your kids, but you need to take the time to keep yourself informed and up-to-date on the latest technology and internet security options. You also need to be aware of things that ordinarily you might overlook. For instance, many games today have downloadable content that adds new levels, new textures, or other new content to the game, and just because the game has a rating that makes it child-friendly doesn’t mean the downloadable content will follow the same guidelines. Make sure you check anything your child wants to download, no matter how big or small, to make sure it’s safe before allowing them to get it.
Other Resources – There are a number of resources you can take advantage of which will help you keep yourself informed and your children safe. Check out the below links for more information.
Children 4-7 Years Old – These resources are available to help parents of young children to manage online risks.
Children 8-12 Years Old – These resources are available to assist parents with older children to continue managing the online risks which change as your children continue to grow.
Teens 13-18 Years Old – These resources are available to allow teens to explore cyber safety issues and assist parents with keeping their teenagers safe online.
Parents and Adults – These resources are for parents to stay informed and continue to improve their knowledge of online safety and in so doing improve their own ability to protect their children.