Protecting Your Child: Conversations Work Better than Rules

Jan 17, 2014

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When it comes to online security, most parents rely on setting specific rules for children. These are good in practice, but does your child know why rules are put into place? 

Understanding a problem is key to solving it, and giving your child knowledge shouldn't be viewed as a chore. Having conversations regarding why rules are set the way they are helps kids understand the severity of certain situations. 

For instance, telling a child they can't play with the steak knife is a rule. Telling him or her that they could get cut by the knife denotes a sense of urgency in the information. How does communicating with your child work better than establishing basic rules for helping them stay safe while using the Internet?

1. Interaction - Children need to be guided and taught while developing. Being a parent is more than providing food and shelter. Kids rely on you to teach them what it means to be a person. Constant interaction will help them learn what they need to know in any situation. If you are involved in a child's life, she may be more susceptible to what you have to say. Interact with your child on a daily basis and demonstrate to them how important they are to you.

2. Understanding - As mentioned above, communication can help provide information that children need to develop. If you tell a child why it's important not to give out personal information, they may be less likely to do so. In today's world, kids are in a hurry to grow up and parents need to ensure they are prepared for the world. Kids understand far more than you may realize and arming them with correct information is better than letting friends be the source.

3. Don't Lecture - Some parents converse with a child in the form of a lecture. The difference between a conversation and a lecture is that a conversation is two-way communication. Speaking at a child is most likely to go in one ear and out the other. However, having a two-way conversation forces a child to think about the topic; it also provides a chance for questions to be asked and answered by both parties.

4. Honesty - In some situations, a child can tell when you're lying. In other cases, the child may investigate your facts for themselves. In either instance, lying can drive a wedge between you and your child that may be difficult to remove. Even though a child may lie to you on a regular basis, a child is more impacted emotionally when a parent lies to them.  Be honest about "why" certain precautions are necessary while using the Internet. It may turn out to be a far better experience for you and your child.

Parents have the benefit of life experiences. Never assume a problem in your child's life is less than what they make it to be. Although it may seem like a simple solution to you, your child may be experiencing something for the first time without knowing how to deal with the circumstance. 

Have a conversation with your child about Internet use and find out for yourself how much they truly know.