Limit children's access to the Internet

Mrs Marietta Koh is right in advocating that the physical safety of our children must never be compromised ("Give child free rein - but safety must come first"; last Wednesday).

The Internet is also another area where children should not be given free, unsupervised rein, as it is arguably more dangerous letting children loose on the Internet than on the streets.

With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, children are getting exposed to the Internet at ever-younger ages ("Kids accessing social media tools 'even before P1' "; last Monday).

Many toddlers can swipe a smartphone or tablet before they even learn how to feed themselves.

Encounters with unsavoury websites and people with ill intentions are rife, as many naive and unsuspecting teenagers have discovered belatedly.

Encounters with unsavoury websites and people with ill intentions are rife, as many naive and unsuspecting teenagers have discovered belatedly.

Even adults are not immune to false claims and identities.

Even adults are not immune to false claims and identities.

In many cases, parents give free rein or are complicit in creating social media accounts - on Facebook, for example - before their children are of the required minimum age.

Even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has said he would not allow any child of his to use Facebook before the age of 13 ("Zuckerberg shares wife's pregnancy on Facebook"; Aug 2).

Many parents may have given in to the incessant requests of their underage children for a social media account to keep up with their friends.

However, just as we do not allow our children to roam the streets unsupervised for long periods of time, we should also stand firm against such demands for social media access before our children are deemed mature enough.

If teenagers and adults can fall prey to criminals, younger children are even more vulnerable.

Parents and schools should inculcate a sense of cyber wellness as soon as the children can access the Internet.

As far as possible, parents should limit their children's usage of the Internet, and use the time to read to them or bond as a family.

Maria Loh Mun Foong (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2015, with the headline 'Limit children's access to the Internet'. Print Edition | Subscribe