Protecting Children from Risks

By: Alfred Chow

With the rapid proliferation of homes installing broad band internet connections, more school children are getting into cyberspace to play games like Maple story etc. You may think that internet games are harmless. You could be wrong :

(a) A child who spends many hours in playing cyber games will be deprived of the chance to interact with other children to develop his/her social skills.

(b)Cyber games tend to be action oriented with near instantaneous gratification. Prolonged exposure to such situations will lead to diminished interest in reading, playing musical instruments, playing chess and other intellectually stimulating activities. This will invariably affect the child's mental development and possbly progress in school.

(c) A child may stumble on some text or images of websites that may not be suitable for children. Exposure to sexual images and messages at a young age will certainly do more harm than good.

(d) A child may also stumbleupon a variety of websites that offer the opportunity to make friends. Through chat sites and messengers , it is possible for some unscupulous paedophiles who masquerade as youngsters to befriend your child to extract private information. They could use such information to threaten or abuse the child.

So there is a need for some kind of control and protection by installing some filtering software. There are some people who think that internet filters are for overbearing parents, but that is really not true. Internet filters are used by a wide cross section of the society that has people with differing views, attitudes and moral standpoints. Internet filters are cumstomizable. The degree of restriction that they bring to your computer and your child's use of the Internet can be completely tailored to suit your needs.

An illustration of the degree of customisation is that you can set your filter so that your child can only use the net for a small period of time a day, and only has access to a few websites that you have specially selected. On the other hand, you can give your child much longer access to the Internet each day, and let them have access to all sites except for a couple of specific websites that you have deemed inappropriate.

Internet filters are, thus, indeed useful in significantly reducing the risks of your children being exposed to undesired elements in the cyberspace. It pays to adhere to the old adage:"Prevention is better than cure."

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