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Oh, the joy of not having bookshelves full of dusty, heavy volumes of encyclopedias and dictionaries.

The internet is the most innovative creation within technology as information, knowledge, learning, and entertainment is now a button away.

The drawbacks of this powerful tool, however, cannot be overlooked!

The dark and ugly side of the net results in our younger generation becoming addicted to the net, social alienation, schoolwork neglect, weak communication skills, and exposure to information that is not age-relevant or safe.

How can parents help their children use the internet responsibly?

• Communication, communication, communication! As soon as your child starts to access the internet. Start encouraging your child to talk about what they are reading, watching, and who they are communicating with. Do not stop as they grow older.

• All parental controls are impressive and can be used with remarkable success, but what happens when your child starts accessing the internet outside the safety of your home?

• Chat to your child about digital footprints, apps, and devices with geo-tagging devices and why they need to be smart about protecting their images and information.

• Where possible, parents should also consider this information before posting photographs on their children.

• Keep in mind that innocent research can lead to not-so-innocent results. So, where possible, keep screens and devices where you can see them and try to make an agreement that no tablets, laptops, and cell phones are used and kept and used in bedrooms.

• Parents should educate themselves about how to use the internet safely to give the best advice to their children.

• Parents should know how to block someone, report inappropriate and offensive posts, and keep information private.

Parents should LEAD BY EXAMPLE!

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