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Protecting Versus Stifling in the Internet Age
By: Jessica Cherok
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The Internet is a scary place. It's even scarier when you are a parent letting your kids go online. Figuring out how to keep them safe without stifling the development of vital online skills is a difficult balance to find.

The Internet, social media, and apps all have opportunities for children to be exposed to unsuitable content. Even the most diligent parents find it impossible to keep up with all the technology. Not to mention, kids these days are oftentimes more tech savvy than adults.

But if companies can utilize software to lock down, monitor, and eavesdrop on their employees, why aren't similar technologies available to parents?

There are some apps that can help monitor and control kids' activities online, but they're often limited by changing technologies and kids' ability to circumvent the protections. The bulk of online security software is aimed at protecting companies, because that is where the biggest profits can be made.

Clearly, the best way to protect children is a combination of education and technical solutions. So many children (and adults) use social media to measure their self-worth that the harm may really be stemming from that more than any inappropriate ad or website. Kids need to be aware of what they may encounter online, how to handle those situations, and to take time away from online activities. Parents need to make sure their child is safe without causing them to lag in learning online skills.

For more information about keeping kids safe online, visit OnGuardOnline.gov.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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