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Children are connected but is it good?

SMARTPHONES, iPads and other smart devices are here to stay . . .
We are living in the digital age but what about our kids? When is the best time to expose them to these gadgets and the web? No matter how much some parents hate it, their kids will be exposed to the internet at some or other stage in their early lives.
If you are one of those parents who say: “It is not right to snoop around your child’s web searches, emails and text messages”, you have another thing coming!
The Parent Centre’s Zeenat Hendricks, who is based in Cape Town, said taking charge of the digital age is like flying into the sun, blinding, irresistible – and addiction is easy.
“There are smartphones that tell you when to eat, sleep, and wake up and so on but as a parent you have to know where to draw the line,” she said.
How many times have you seen kids still wearing diapers busy playing games on cellphones or their own little laptops?
SunBuzz asked if it is good to let kids use the latest high-tech gadgets and the responses from parents are mixed – some say yes, but more say no ways.
There are two arguments:
On the positive side, there are those who say through these gadgets, kids are exposed to the great world of information that will help them learn and know things quickly, faster and easily. It will develop their brains and make them a better product for the future, and help to give them an edge in this modern day or technology.
A recent research done by Unicef, MXit, University of Cape Town and Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Havard University, on the usage of Mzansi’s largest social network – MXit – found that many young people were busy on their phones the moment they get out of school and even through the night.
“Mobile technology, the internet and social networks can make vital information more accessible to children and create platforms for discussion and participation on matters that affect them but access should be accompanied by education and regulation to make sure that children’s safety is not compromised,” said the research.
Even Pope Francis said this week that the internet is a “gift from God” that creates communication. But he also warned that the obsessive desire to stay connected can actually isolate people from their friends and family.
, But on the negative side, people reason that opening up a world full of information to your kids can not be a good thing. They lose their innocence more quickly by being exposed to all kinds of stories, violent news and porn.
“There is a lot of great information online, but I can tell you that all those kids busy chatting on their cellphones are not searching information for their age, they are looking for blind dates and discussing things they are not supposed to. And worst of all they are failing in the communication department and the use of language because they use short SMS texts to communicate,” said Nelisiwe Ndlovu, a parent who is based in Braamfontein.
But even more, parents are worried about predators – paedophiles and human trafficking thugs who target young people.
“Do you remember the Facebook rapist? How many girls believed him?” she asked.
While some parents complained that porn was too accessible some children have been found to be taking naked pictures of themselves and videos to share online.
Stopping kids from accessing the internet may seem a bit unfair and it’s actually impossible – but monitoring their profiles, posts, web travel, emails and texts might be the best way to go about it.
But even internet businesses may have to change their tune . . . iPhone and iPad makers, Apple, will now have to pay out at least R362 million to parents whose children bought apps without their consent. Apple needs to pay full refunds to people who were billed for app store bills caused by children as well as for other charges.

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