My son was already born with a tablet under his arm. At the age of two, he moved the windows on the screen as he pleased and easily found what he was looking for. With five, he surfs the Internet and although he still does not know how to write, he knows how to locate everything that interests him on YouTube.
That is why it strikes me that the latest study on children's Internet access mark the seven years as the beginning of the adventure. I know many start earlier.
The new generation has not had to learn like us. Knowledge of the Internet is something innate in them. They grow up surrounded by fascinating gadgets that allow them access to all the information they want. They are not able to imagine the world before the Internet.
The problem with starting to navigate so early is the vulnability of children. It is as if they were sailing aboard a small raft at the mercy of the storm, sharks, mermaids, villains and pirates. Their innocence makes them trust everyone and everything.
I don't think the solution is to ban children's access to the internet. Taking them away from the network would be like isolating them and separating them from the world where they live. It is best to start early to inform, warn and when they are very young, stay alert and watch.
According to the same study that reveals that children begin to surf the internet at the age of seven, we find a worrying fact: most parents let their children download content without prior supervision.
And it is true that the rush and lack of time make us end up giving him full freedom and trusting, perhaps excessively, that the child will be able to recognize something that he should not see.
The problem is not that the Internet is a dangerous place for children. The problem is that parents we don't prepare them for that world nor do we offer them the necessary tools to navigate safely. Information, limits and surveillance. For me, they are the keys for children to surf the Internet more safely.
From the moment we see that the child begins to move around the internet, and asks to download games, we must warn him that nothing is ever downloaded without consulting it (many times games for children include data access clauses and even violent advertising).
We can also use parental filters (a program that is installed on the computer, collects the pages where the child navigates and 'warns' us if he enters a page with content classified as 'not suitable').
When the child is older and able to write and read, it may be time to warn them about cyberbullying (internet harassment), sexting (exchanging photos of sexual content) and grooming (when an adult approaches a child with sexual intentions).
Above all, warn them, as we did when they were younger, about the importance of not 'talking to strangers', much less exchanging data or photographs. That they can trust their parents to tell them that someone 'insults' them online.
Arm them with shields before lifting the anchor and directing their course. Give them a map so they know how to get around the icebergs. And above all, keep in touch with them. That always.
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