How to talk with children about the Internet? Do you have to talk about it at all? Hintalovon Children's Rights Foundation's online sex education program (Yelon) published a Hungarian-language document on this issue. This guide is for parents and adults who want to make their child's use of the Internet safer, but not only. Those who are just getting acquainted with the online world are also given guidance.
In Hungary, nearly 6 million people now have Internet access in the country. The Internet is becoming accessible and popular not only for adults but children start using it at younger and younger ages. Often, 3-4-year-olds are also given digital devices as gifts and parents are proud of their knowledge in using the tools. This, in turn, runs the risk of young people becoming lonely, with real relationships diminishing. Children do not learn each other's signals and how to decode them, they cannot practice behavioural forms, and conflict management remains rudimentary as the online world can end the debate with one click.
But how do we use the internet well? The Internet can be used for learning and searching the information by using the appropriate search services, and the information sought is quickly accessible. In addition, the Internet can also be used for communication: through e-mails, social networking sites, chat, we can broaden our circle of acquaintances, we can reach communities we cannot get to know in real life, we can tighten our relationship with our acquaintances and our distant relatives, we can share our knowledge and opinion. The internet can also be used for entertainment, movies, music, and games etc.
No matter whether we are digital parents or those who consider themselves to be "digital dinosaurs", it is important that children be properly prepared for internet use. Most social sites have an age limit, so it's important for the parent to be aware of these limitations and explain how dangerous their child is to sign up to such sites (eg. the content available, strangers, not everything and everyone seems to see what it looks like, rumours). It must also be explained that what gets out of the Internet is almost impossible to remove from it, so you should think twice about publishing anything. Sharing sexually explicit images is a child pornography material under Hungarian law if it is made of a person under the age of 18, and if it is sent to a person who has not asked for it, the fact of sexual harassment is realized too.
The prevalence of online harassment is ten times greater than that of sexual harassment, and the easiest way to prevent this is to teach the child that hurting others is just as painful on online platforms as in real life. The publication also discusses further steps in this regard.
Other points are online shopping abuses, viruses and bogus codes, access to content that is not age-appropriate, and online behaviour that endangers adults. What are the applications that every parent needs to know? For example:
• Snap Chat
• Whatsapp, Viber
The manual sets out some key points that can make Internet use safer for our children. For example, to explain that you should not give your password to anyone set an age limit on the devices you use. Let's talk to your child about your favourite sites, ask questions about Internet usage. The handbook publishes a list of questions that are useful for parents to map their child's internet usage habits and help them start a discussion about problem areas.
And finally, remember that the most important thing is to talk openly about our Internet with the child and how to use it, if we listen to what you like, then turn to us faster even if you experience negative experiences.