When putting the family computer in a specific spot, it is important to keep it in a visible, highly used location. This ensures the safety of children and teens who use it because it makes supervision easier for parents.
Imagine this: a parent takes his or her son/daughter to a large, unfamiliar city — they might know some people there, but most people are strangers. There are some places that look friendly, but there are also lots of dark corners with people who look just as shady. The parent looks down at their child, who is eagerly looking around at all the new, exciting things to experience. The parent lets go of the child’s hand and tells them, “Okay, why don’t you just go take a look around. If you have any questions or just want to chat with anyone, go and ask someone who seems interesting. Have fun and don’t get into any trouble!”
No responsible parent would dream of doing such a thing, yet many parents actually do something quite similar by letting their children navigate and roam the world of the Internet alone. While the Internet has a lot of great things to offer — information, entertainment, and easy communication with friends — there are also a lot of dangerous people and questionable websites. However, there is an easy way to combat all the dangers of the web — parental supervision.
Most experts agree that one of the best ways to protect kids and teens from online dangers is to keep the family computer in a visible, highly used location. Usually, a living room or family room is the best place for the family computer because it’s a high traffic area. Chances are that the child will not go to questionable sites if they know someone could easily be looking. Plus, if the area is easily accessible, it isn’t difficult for parents to just pop in and out, maybe even without being noticed, from time to time to see what their child is doing.
One of the worst places to put the family computer is in a bedroom. It is just too secluded. Not only could the child fall prey to online predators or be exposed to adult websites, they can also download viruses unknowingly by opening an unknown file or page. This can wreak havoc on a computer, sometimes leaving the computer basically useless. In addition, some viruses can even turn on web cameras on and record, without turning on the red recording light. This allows anyone to look in on a bedroom (one of the most personal rooms in the house). If the computer is in a visible, highly used location, parents can stop things from happening or at least getting too far.
A downside with having the computer in a high traffic area is that it can be loud and distracting for anyone trying to work or study. This can definitely be problematic for older kids and teens trying to do homework. A good solution to this problem is to put an older computer that isn’t connected to the Internet in their room. This way, they can do the schoolwork they need to, but without the need of frequent supervision. If they do need to do research, they can use the family computer in the highly used location since quiet isn’t as needed.
Kids and teens will probably, at one time or another, protest the lack of privacy in having the computer in a highly used location. Parents should assure kids that their motives aren’t nosy or overbearing, but just in the name of safety (parents should be sure that they actually do come across as concerned, not nosy). No matter what kinds of opposition parents do face, they need to be vigilant about supervising their children’s Internet use — in the end, it’s in everyone’s best interest.