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How to Teach Your Child to Use the Internet?

Questioner

H (30-female-US)

Reply Date

Nov 23, 2018

Question

I would like my eight-year-old daughter to learn how to use the Internet. I need your help in the following: 1. I would like to know how to protect her from all the undesirable sites 2. Can you suggest some sites appropriate for her age? 3. If you cannot guide us yourself, can you propose some specialized sites 4. What is the proper way to teach her? May Allah reward you.

Counselor

Answer


Short answer:

•Send them to computer centers to learn with children of their own age.
•Acquire specialized books on the subject and teach your children (home education).
•Make the children sit by the adult user to learn (education by imitating).


As salamu `alaykum dear sister,

You may think that this type of inquiry is just one of many that we receive each day, but I would like to assure you of the importance of this issue; an issue that should be dealt with in depth from different perspectives.

My beginning will be very unconventional. Instead of beginning with the answer, I will begin by asking you a question: Have you read Surat Yusuf? Have you reflected on the meaning and moral of the story of Yusuf (peace and blessings be upon him)?
Let us delve inside the surah because it is relevant to your question.

“Verily in Joseph and his brethren are signs (of Allah’s Sovereignty) for the inquiring”. (Yusuf 12:7)

The eldest suggested to throw Yusuf down the well, the idea of getting rid of Yusuf was always in the back of his brothers’ minds, but they did not know how to execute the plan or how to justify it to their father.

Do you know who instructed them on the how to execute there vicious scheme? It was their father!

“He said: Lo! in truth it saddens me that ye should take him with you, and I fear lest the wolf devour him while ye are heedless of him.”(Yusuf 12:13)

Without knowing, the father handed the brothers the long-awaited strategy: He introduced into their mind the wolf attack. Without any delay, the brothers brought Yusuf’s shirt smeared with blood and claimed that the wolf had attacked and eaten him. It was perfect. The father declared his fear of what might happen and the brothers took advantage of their father’s apprehension.

I fear that you, as well as many mothers, may unconsciously follow Ya`qub (peace and blessings be upon him) and verbalize your fears in front of your children, and thus open up a dimension that they were unaware of.

Your apprehensions, dear sister, are justified, and your fears are not without reasons, but we caution you from taking your fear to extremes and communicating them to your children. How often do you hear,

“Beware of the pornographic sites.”

“Do not enter any site projecting images of naked women.”

At this age, children have no concept or knowledge of the existence of such sites.


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This attitude has spread nowadays; therefore, it has become imperative to caution against it. Many a time we find mothers volunteer information while educating their children about sex—information that serves no purpose at that time, facts beyond the children’s comprehension. We have to take into consideration the age of the children and their state of development.

First, let us define our goal. What do we want from introducing this modern technology to our children? The answer is quite obvious: We want to bring up a generation capable of dealing with all this new technology in a wholesome way, that knows how to benefit from its positive aspects and how to handle its negative aspects. The new generation should know that these are the elements of future technologies, which they should master. Am I right? I do not think we disagree.

There is an important equation we have to agree on before continuing, that of a generation capable of benefiting from new technologies in a wholesome way, which is, at the same time, a righteous generation. A generation aware and capable of assimilating the precepts of our religion—the licit and illicit—and this cannot be accomplished without setting examples and good guidance, extending all the advice needed at all times.

A Righteous Generation

This part of the equation should precede and continue throughout your child’s use of the computer and Internet, meaning that she should be aware—age taken into consideration—of the existence of Allah and of His precepts, and any deviations from these set rules will entail punishment. As human beings we are accountable for our senses. Consequently, your child should learn to question herself whether Allah would be pleased with such behavior.

A Generation Capable of Benefiting From the Modern Technology

Among the Internet’s various uses is to know how to navigate, how to use the search engine, how to browse the Internet, and how to send an e-mail.

Although our answer will focus on the second part of the equation, we add that the knowledge of our children of what they should do and what they should stay away from it is a continuous uninterrupted process, while in the street, at home, with the neighbors: In short, a process that is not bound to one place or time. It starts from the day your child commences to perceive things till the day we die. Dear parents, I am sorry for this long introduction, but I find it necessary.

The Internet is only a small part of a difficult equation; we should always depend on and ask the help of Allah in everything, particularly before embarking on any decision concerning our children.

Now let us go back to your question systematically.

The proper measures to take in order to protect your child from the negative aspects of the Internet are these:

Three Ways to Teach Your Children the Use of the Internet

1. Send them to computer centers to learn with children of their own age.
2. Acquire specialized books on the subject and teach your children (home education).
3. Make the children sit by the adult user to learn (education by imitating).

Personally, I see the necessity of merging the second and third alternatives, the use of books and references, not for teaching but as a guide.

For example, most of the books start with a necessary introduction of the Internet and its use. The mother can read it and rephrase it to her child in a simpler way; she can use the pictures in the books to illustrate her explications.
The mother can then move to the practical aspect and, together with her child, explore the world of the Net.

The daughter is sitting on her mother’s lap or sitting on a chair close to her whilst the mother is controlling the learning process, which should last for at least two months.

After that, the child should learn to use the appropriate programs while the mother is in the vicinity, to help if the child encounters any difficulties.
Let us make the time spent on the Internet most pleasurable between mother and daughter.

Protection of Your Children from X-Rated Sites

There are several sites in existence fashioned for the protection of children, known as filtration and blocking. Some of the sites offer these facilities free of charge, some offer them free for a limited time, and others offer them for sale.
These sites automatically block all Web sites as x-rated.

There are two very important points to consider:

1. Not all programs are capable of filtering or blocking x-rated content, but most of them can block images and advertisements with sexual connotation.
2. There are programs to counter the filtering and blocking programs.

There are some Internet service providers (ISP) that will provide the filtering and blocking services with the registration. I am unaware if such service is available in your country.

* Here are some practical steps to follow up on your daughter when she becomes Internet literate.

1. To use the “history” facility on your computer, this permits parents to know the different sites visited by their children. We do not encourage extensive checking on children, the relationship between parents and children should be that of trust.

2. Teach your child some basic rules to protect herself
a. She should not give her e-mail address to anyone, despite the fact that some foreign programs require it. Nevertheless, she should know that it could be misused.
b. She should not buy any product from the Net without your previous knowledge.

3. We suggest that the children should not stay more than two hours at a time on the Net in order to avoid addiction.

4. Befriend your daughter, and together you can e-mail her friends, and agree that she gives you her password, without pressuring her.

5. Give priority to site that does not contradict with our Islamic identity, although this demand is the most difficult and the least realistic.

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides. 

Read more:

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About Mona Younes

Mona Younes has an extensive background as teacher and supervisor in both English Language and Arabic Language schools, before which she obtained her B.Ed at the American University in Cairo, Egypt.Mona attended and participated actively in a long list of conferences and seminars dealing with Family and Parental Issues. Currently, Mona Younes is doing her Masters on Online Education at the Southern Queensland University, Australia.

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