There will come a time when you start to notice that your child is spending more and more time in their bedroom doing their ‘own thing’. This is a natural part of growing up, but whilst it used to happen in mid-teens onwards, now it is happening much earlier. Maybe this is tied into the earlier onset of puberty in our tweens and teens. Children as young as 10 and 11 are now exhibiting signs of ‘teenagerism’ and all that this brings with it! But whilst it is OK for your child to have some ‘me-time’, you also need to make sure that they stay integrated within the family. Don’t let them become so isolated by choice that their interaction with the family reduces.
When they are in their rooms there is a huge likelihood that they will be using Comcast internet to browse, socialise, research and listen to music, watch videos etc. Whilst this is all well and good, you do have to have a handle on where they are, who they are with and what they are doing. It might be only in the virtual world and not the real one but the dangers and risks are just as great, if not more so. After all, you wouldn’t allow your 12 year old to wander off and join a room full of strangers and then engage with them in social banter would you? Then you must apply the same rules to their time spent socialising and chatting online.
Websites like www.quib.ly provides great chat room safety tips so if in doubt as to what you should be doing, make this one of your first ports of call. Here you will find plenty of other parents and people with children sharing their views, concerns and headaches with regard to children and technology. The topic of chat rooms and safety crops up fairly often on the site, as you might imagine. You will find plenty of common-sense suggestions, some of which you may not have thought of yourself. For instance, if your child is alone in their room a lot, try to discourage this when they are socialising online. Encourage them to be in the same room as you, particularly when they are new to the internet and at the younger end of the age range. As both you and your child become aware of the obvious dangers lurking online then you can give them slightly more freedom, but best to start off in a fairly limited way.
The other thing that you absolutely must do is talk to them about safety online. They may have already had talks concerning this at school, so it is a good way to share ideas. They may even end up telling you things that they already know such as never to give out personal information online. Make them aware that there may be visitors in the chat room who are not what they seem and that if anything unpleasant occurs whilst they are chatting they should always let you know. Check which chat rooms your child wants to use and vet them carefully before you agree. The most important thing that you can do as a parent is keep the lines of communication open so that your son or daughter will always tell you if they are concerned about anything that happens whilst they are chatting.