With so much to do and see online, parental restrictions can feel random and unfair. Believe it or not, adults have some great reasons for their annoying rules — and once you understand the reasons, you may be able to find some flexibility in the rules. With that in mind, we’re here to answer some of the questions we hear most from kids who think their parents are smothering them with rules for using the Internet.
My parents won’t let me meet new people in social networks. How can I explain it’s totally safe?
You can’t, because it isn’t. It’s not the answer you were hoping for, but unfortunately, it’s the truth. Talking to strangers, especially online, is incredibly risky. If a big, strange man approached you in the park, you would know not to talk to him. But online, that creepy man could use an avatar of a boy or girl your age, or a cartoon character, or, really, anything. The bottom line is, you don’t know anything about strangers online, and being in a social network can make you drop your guard because the people in your network really are your friends, classmates, and family.
My parents won’t let me play my favorite online games. They say I’m addicted! How can I tell if I am addicted to games?
Gaming addiction is a tricky topic, and it can be very hard to examine your own behavior and figure out if your love of games may be harming you. Here are some questions to ask yourself — and be honest!
- Does your gaming interfere with your schoolwork or are your grades the same as before you got into gaming?
- If your schoolwork hasn’t suffered, that’s a good sign that your gaming habits aren’t unhealthy or addictive — but even if your honest answer is that you’re doing fine in school, keep asking yourself this question every month or so. If you can’t possibly focus on homework when you could be playing instead, that’s a sign that your gaming may be addictive.
- Do you stay awake late or get up in the middle of the night to play games?
- If you answered “Yes” to either one, that indicates an unhealthy level of gaming that may be addicted.
- Do you see your real-life friends as often as ever, or are you too busy playing online games?
- Like question 2, this question is a very important one. If gaming feels more important than friends, that can be a sign of addiction.
- If you have to be away from your gaming device (tablet, phone, console), do you feel panicky or do you forget about it after a little while?
- Generally, if you are not addicted to gaming, you’ll quickly stop thinking about your games — out of sight, out of mind.
- Do you ever get really angry (not just a little bit annoyed) if you have to leave a game for dinner or other family time?
- Hey, games are fun! It’s natural to wish for another 5 minutes, but if you are seething with anger while wolfing down your mac and cheese, that’s a warning sign.
If gaming has become an unhealthy activity, talk to your parents or a teacher or another trusted adult about it.
Or, if you still feel the way you play games is just fine, try having a nice, calm conversation with your parents about it. Go through the above questions with them, and maybe all of you can agree on some rules and set times for playing games.
Why did my parents install parental controls?
Like lots of things your parents do, using parental control software is really about keeping you safe. As we mentioned above, the Internet is a tricky place to stay safe, with many virtual risks that can become very real, very fast. Parental controls (such as Kaspersky Safe Kids) can help steer you away from sites that are dangerous or too mature, and they also help everyone enforce time limits on certain kinds of activities (like social networking and gaming instead of doing your homework on the computer). Basically, parental controls are an electronic helper, so your parents don’t need to watch over your shoulder while you’re online…which would suck.
How do I bypass parental controls?
You’ll have to talk with your parents about that. Sorry, it’s not the answer you wanted, but you really will need to negotiate with them on this one. They can make the settings less restrictive if you make a good case for what you want to be able to see or do online.