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Safety Tips by Age - 8-10-Year-Olds

Eight- to ten-year-old kids are at a cognitive stage when they start thinking logically and planning. They are creative problem solvers and their vocabulary is expanding, which allows for verbal reasoning. They also start showing emerging preferences and talents.

They are starting to develop their moral, self and gender identity and their sense of responsibility and they seek social approval.

Their social development is evolving too: although parental influence is still strong in this age group, friends are increasingly important, and they start feeling social pressure to conform and be “cool”.

Attitudes towards media

Kids at this age still accept media content uncritically and believe media portrayals are real if they appear possible in real life. In particular, they may be frightened by realistic portrayals of violence, threats or danger. This is an age where kids may be easily influenced by media images and personalities – especially those that appear "cool" or desirable.

At this age, Internet use is also growing, although kids still accept and use technology uncritically. They often blend their online actions with other activities and media, since this is the age when multi-tasking begins.

Their favourite online activities are playing and downloading games, and surfing the Net for fun, which includes visiting virtual environments like Neopets. On an average school day, 57 per cent are doing homework. And a surprising number are also making use of the Internet for self-expression and learning.

Online issues

Eight- to ten-year-olds are more confident now about going online and perceive the Internet as a fun place to be.

Generally, children under the age of 10 lack sufficient critical thinking skills to navigate online alone, but research tells us that 20 per cent of 9- and 10-year-olds have their own computers with Internet access.

The Challenges that existed at younger ages remain: easy access to adult sites through hyperlinks, relentless advertising and search engine results containing inappropriate Web sites.

As well, the growing confidence and increased online explorations of this age group raise some new issues, such as:

  • the increased consumption of online games (generally created by advertisers) that leave them vulnerable to aggressive harvesting of their personal information;
  • their naïveté regarding false online identities; and
  • their vulnerability – especially if left unsupervised – to harassment from peers.

Safety tips

  • Create a list of Internet house rules with input from your kids. For some help, you can consult the Family Online Rules tip sheet.
  • Sit with your kids when they are online or make sure they only visit sites that you have approved.
  • Keep Internet-connected computers in an open area where you can easily monitor them.
  • Investigate Internet-filtering tools as a complement – not a replacement – for parental supervision.
  • Use kid-friendly search engines or search engines with parental controls.
  • Establish a shared family e-mail account with your Internet Service Provider rather than letting your kids have their own accounts.
  • Teach your kids to always come to you before giving out information through e-mail, chat rooms, message boards, registration forms, personal profiles and online contests.
  • Use e-mail filters to block messages from particular people, or those that contain specific words or phrases.
  • Don't allow instant messaging at this age.
  • Only allow your kids to use monitored chat rooms and message boards on reputable kids' sites.
  • Talk to your kids about their online friends and activities just as you would about their other activities.
  • Talk to them about healthy sexuality because kids can easily come across online pornography.
  • Encourage your kids to come to you if they encounter anything online that makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened. (Stay calm. If you "freak out" your kids won't turn to you for help when they need it.)
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