Having an internet safety month seems silly because the internet is now an everyday tool with which most of us are comfortable using. We don’t think twice about logging on or the information we may come across. However, it’s important to remember that the internet is powerful in what it enables us and others to do.
To help remind us to be mindful of our internet habits, the National Cyber Security Alliance, a non-profit public-private group focused on cybersecurity awareness and education, uses this time to encourage all internet users to, “Stop. Think. Connect,” each time they log on.
Children, Adolescents & the Internet
Internet safety month is as much about what adults should to protect themselves, their information, and their computers as it is about teaching children about it – from security to the stuff they may find while surfing the net. Understanding better online safety is begins with good judgment and behavior that is exercised daily, all year long.
Now that school is out with several months of summer freedom ahead, children and adolescents will likely be spending much more time online or playing video games. It’s such an easy way to be entertained with all the content, games, and social interaction the Web has to offer. Even if it’s “just Facebook,” it is important for kids of all ages to be aware of their actions. For example, cyberbullying has become an all too common occurrence. Children are verbally abusing each other whether they’re instigating it themselves, succumbing to peer pressure to send hurtful messages, or perpetuating the cycle by sharing the information instead of trying to stop it.
Another reason to teach internet safety is because research, by the Pew Institute or other sources, shows that the vast majority of children have access to the internet in their own homes. Also increasing numbers of adolescents have their own computers and even their own smartphones. Unless parents are vigilant, put safeguards in place, and spend time educating their kids about internet safety, these children have easy access to every corner of the Web.
Internet Addiction and Troubled Adolescents
If your adolescent is spending extra time online this summer, it may be fine. It’s when online activities interfere with emotional, intellectual, and social development that help should be sought. Even if it’s just reading, the endless supply of links can occupy a person for hours, along with social media and online games. Get teens involved in other activities to avoid excessive time online.
Internet addiction is characterized by a dependence on the internet and computers. Internet-addicted adolescents exhibit signs of preoccupation or anxiety when away from their computers and irritation when online activities are interrupted. They forego other hobbies in favor of being online, withdraw from family and friends, and experience physical side effects from hours spent sitting in front of a computer.
Several solutions exist for treating internet addiction – from a self-imposed digital detox to programs designed to help you deal with addictive behaviors. The trouble with most cases of internet addiction is their root in other issues, such as anxiety and depression or low self-esteem. These must be treated along with the dependence on technology in order to see long-term success. Pacific Quest wilderness therapy program has been able to help troubled adolescents and young adults in the journey to understanding and recovery. An individualized clinical care program is key to helping each student whether it’s for internet addiction or adoption issues, etc. A wilderness therapy program gets young people away from the temptation of technology, so they learn to function without it.
Prevention is the best medicine. This summer prepare your kids by teaching them internet safety as well as other activities to stimulate them until next school year rolls around.