Raising and educating children is one of the top duties of every parent. Allah Almighty has enjoined this responsibility as well as His Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. Allah says (which means):
“O you who believe! Protect yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not the commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded.” (Quran: 66:6)
Parents are putting up their best to fulfill what Allah and His Messenger has enjoined. In addition to their struggles, the online world has managed to catch our attention. Making life easier in some ways, meanwhile, it has a darker side.
Just one click away and you’ll arrive at a seething pool of propaganda, along with dozens of pornographic or immoral websites launching each day.
As a Muslim parent, it is essential to be diligent about guarding children’s eyes and their hearts from satanic influences. Use good measures with good monitoring and accountability.
Teach your children common sense.
Among the protection mechanisms parents apply in the real world (offline), none is 100% perfect, I think. The same goes with the online world.
The best way, therefore, to ensure that children are protected as possible is to instill into them good common scenes. By doing this, they can instinctively identify and stare down any potential dangers that come their way, whenever and wherever.
Read Also: Advice for young Muslims
Carefully consider your child’s maturity level and teach them to sometimes trust their own judgment when they have nowhere to turn. But make sure you let them know the basic teachings of Islam so that whatever decision they might take will be on point.
Help your children to help themselves online by talking to them everything they need to know.
Talk to Your Children
It is obvious that children of all age, even toddlers, see parents and the elderly once using multiple electronic devices. Children at a very young age use computers for learning.
As soon as your child begins to come close to using an electronic device, it is the exact time to talk to them about online behavior, and its safety and security.
Since the internet plays a big part of our lives, parents should teach their wards how to use it safely and responsibly.
Let’s go through some of the ways children can stay safe while surfing the internet.
Parents should say the following to their children
- Never say anything online to someone that you would not say to their face
- Never be nasty or rude about anyone online
- Never reveal personal information (such as full name, address, phone no etc.) about yourself online
- Never arrange to meet anyone you have only communicated with online
- Only allow people you know to be friends with you on social media like Facebook etc.
- Do not post rude or embarrassing photographs of you, your family or friends online
- Do not post videos on YouTube that show you being rude, stupid or mean to others
- Do not open emails from people you do not know
- Do not download attachments from emails unless you know what it is and where it is from
- Do not download files from sites unless they are well known and respected (ask your parents if you are not sure)
- When creating usernames to use on sites, never use your real name
- Do not share music or videos that have been copied illegally – you could get in trouble
- Don’t believe everything you read online.
- If something seems too good to be true – it usually is
- Remember – No one is anonymous on the web. It is probably possible to track who accessed any site. Be careful about what you do
- Keep passwords safe and don’t use anything obvious like the name of your dog, favorite band, etc.
What parents should do to ensure internet safety for their kids
- Keep computers in a public place with the screen facing outward.
- Establish family rules and guidelines such as setting limits on how much time they spend online, giving no personal information, etc.
- Reinforce the dangers of and penalties for sharing personal or school information.
- Prohibit any meeting in person with someone he/she knows only online unless you are present.
- Inform your children that you will monitor Internet use, messaging and social networking in order to keep them safe.
- . Let teens know that everything on the Internet is public and that it is close to impossible to take something back once it is posted.
- Share with your children stories using real examples of teens who have been harmed or hurt because of unsafe online practices.
- Remind teens that behind screen names, avatars and profiles are real people with values and feelings. They need to be mindful of what they say and exercise good judgment.
- Meeting someone contacted online carries considerable risk and is not advised. If a meeting is arranged ask that teens adhere to the following:
- do not meet alone
- go with a trusted adult
- meet in a public place
- Do not overreact if and when you find out that teens have done something online of which you do not approve.
- Reinforce the expectation that parents monitor Internet use and that safety rules must be followed.
- If teens confide in you about something scary or inappropriate that they encountered online, your first response should not be to take away Internet privileges. Try to be supportive and work with them to help prevent this from happening in the future.
- Teens have more Internet access through cell phones, mobile devices or friends’ computers, as well as more time to themselves. Consequently, it is not realistic to always be in the same room as your teens when they are online. Reinforce the concept that you and other family members can walk in at any time, and ask them what they are doing online
- Keep your antivirus and anti-spam ware software up to date.
With the above precautions, it is possible to enjoy the many benefits of the Internet while minimizing its risks. More protections must be in place for our Muslim kids. We can’t afford to leave our children in the hands of the devil, so we must be particularly careful about what they do, where they go and with whom they speak.