Internet is here to stay. No matter how hard we try, a life without the world wide web seems impossible now, and so is the exposure of children to the Internet. Torn between the pride in watching their tech-savvy children’s ease with smartphones or tabs and the concern over the rising addiction to gadgets and Internet, parents have realised time has come to act — to take up the challenge of making children responsible netizens.
With the dangers of cyber bullying, stalking and exposure to adult content lurking at every corner of the virtual world and causing social, psychological and emotional stress at a young age, it becomes mandatory for parents to know age-appropriate internet platforms for their children.
Maintaining a balance between online and offline activities is a must, says Harsh Wardhan Dave, Head, Experience & Brand, Worldoo.com, a website for children in the age group of 6 to 12.
“Being on the Internet can be the same as a playground experience, where you are aware of the dangers of falling down, yet as parents you are always there to supervise and keep an eye out for impending danger,” he says.
Despite the dangers, however, it cannot be denied that Internet can be beneficial to children in many ways. A parent’s most important role, hence, becomes to maintain a balance in its usage in order to maximise the benefits, says Dave.
“For example, if your child has a keen interest in nature, there are various platforms such as National Geographic.com or Jeff Corwin Connect that explain nature in a very fun way, supplemented with games and videos. This can become more meaningful when supplemented with a visit to the local nature park or a trek to a natural reserve,” he adds.
Worldoo.com calls itself an “online ecosystem for kids”, presenting “a complete environment of entertainment and education housing a variety of content”. The site has stories, latest jokes, and a variety of do-it-yourself activities besides cartoons, movies, games, arts and crafts.
Among other popular educational websites are pbskids.org and wonderopolis.org. While PBS offers learning through a variety of games, Wonderopolis “walks the line between formal and informal education”. At Wonderopolis, a child is greeted with an intriguing question — such as “Do doctors ever get sick?” or “Can you eat ice cream for a living?” — every day and gets to explore it in a variety of ways.
National Geographic Little Kids is another website that features games, crafts and recipes, science, videos and information on animals and mainly caters to children aged 5 years and below.
It is, however, should be seen that children do not end up depending on the Internet as a complete replacement for social interaction. Quoting reports, Dave says the Internet continued…