How dependent are you on the internet?
Why The Internet is Necessary
These days, many of us are completely dependent on the internet. Our work and our school may be on the internet. We do all kinds of business and talk to our friends on the internet.
We understand the concerns parents have about their children being on the internet. There are definitely scary places on the internet that they need to be kept away from. There are predators out there, and you have to monitor your children, especially if you feel that their intellectual ability is on the lower side. Kids have to be ready to engage with social media. Just because a child’s chronological age may be 17, the child’s mental age may be less, and may not be ready to handle social media.
We strive for our clients to be interested in things that are age-appropriate. For most of our clients, if their chronological age is 17 their bodies are 17, even if their intellectual age might be 10. And typically, we see in our clients a degree of innocence that you normally see with an elementary-aged child. They are often not aware that there are people out there who will want to do bad things, and these types of people will find children and take advantage of them.
If you do dive into letting your children manage social media, it is important that you educate them about Stranger Danger. Your goal is not to scare them, but to make them painfully aware of what might be out there. It’s not fair to send them out without any preparation, and then watch them get into trouble. They just don’t understand what’s going on.
What Sites Are They Visiting
Many of our clients end up on the wrong sites just by clicking things. They might click on a particular word, and not understand where it is going to lead.
Monitor Your Teen
You can set up systems to monitor what your children are doing online. You can also set up timers so that your children do not have the ability to spend hours on the screen, or hours talking to a stranger. Some parents require their children to let them have their passwords so that the parents can log in at any time. You definitely want to check their history so that you can see where they are going on the internet. You can install blocking software or systems that exclude certain things so that they are unable to access certain types of sites. The downside to this is that it can make your life more difficult. For instance, if you have blocking software running and you want to research “breast cancer,” your system might not let you! But this inconvenience might be a small price to pay for keeping your children safe.
Explain Through Social Stories
All that said, we don’t want to scare them away from social media. It is a good platform for making friends, especially for our kids with intellectual disabilities who find social skills to be difficult. But again, this is where it is important to talk about Stranger Danger, and how you can tell a good stranger from a bad stranger. Social stories are a huge help to teach the difference.
If you do a search on “How can I keep my kids safe online?” you will find tons of great resources. Google has some fantastic resources.
If You Have Questions
If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your clinician! Your clinician gets this and is addressing this. We address Stranger Danger with our young adult clients all the time. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions you have!