Children in Cyber World by Cybermum India
Children in Cyber World
Last week I had the honour of being a part of a very interactive twitter chat with parents, due to my being the McAfee Cybermum India under the aegis of #CSAAM. The varied questions put forth on activities what should be allowed and what not, for kids on the internet, doubts on right parenting in this cyber age and the general concerns about keeping kids safe online reveals the concern and confusion among parents. The confusion is a result of the continuous tug-of-war in a parent’s mind between the desire to be a liberal parent and the age-old urge to be fiercely protective of the child. The queries also reveal that parents are in a dilemma on how far to let the child go alone in the virtual world and where to draw the line.
No wonder, parenting is said to be similar to tight-rope walking, especially in modern times where they not only have to supervise the child’s real world activities but also the online one. The disadvantage is that we are not prepared to handle online threats, as we have no prior experience or knowledge to fall back on.For the sake of our kids, we have to put together our collective knowledge to create a resource pool on the subject.
No doubt the net is a great medium for socialising, entertainment and learning, but only when used wisely.The virtual world’s biggest danger is that it is peopled by complete strangers who assume different guises to protect their true identities. Many of them are scammers, criminals and paedophiles. We get nightmares just thinking about one of these predators getting access to our kids. It has happened to many kids already. So, it is our duty as parents to ensure that the children learn to use the internet wisely and stay clear from inappropriate and harmful content.
However, the million-dollar question is “HOW”?This calls for parents taking time to discover the threats that the kids might face online.
- Before allowing children to surf the net, explain the benefits and threats associated and then together set down Internet usage rules for the family. The rules will of course be flexible, depending on age and requirements
- Ensure that all Internet-enabled gadgets are protected by advanced security software that offers parental controls. Features of such security solutions would help you to monitor online activities, block unsafe sites and even receive alerts if kids access inappropriate sites or contact strangers or share personal details
- Forget the concept that you have to be a friendwith your kids. Be a parent first, and a friend afterwards. Children must have healthy respect for their parents to listen to them and obey rules. Be firm and don’t acquiesce to emotional blackmails like “her parents allow her to.”… The friendship comes first when the child is a High School student and is considerably more mature and needs more privacy
- When kids try to coerce you into doing things by saying other parents allow it, be firm instead of losing your temper and getting into a shouting match.
- Teach kids to obey rules by example. Don’t break any rules yourself. If you are in the habit of covering up your goof-ups with lies and breaking real world laws to suit your need, your kids will follow suit. Then don’t blame them.
- Kids below 13 do not need smartphones. If necessary, ordinary handsets will suffice.
- Facebook does not permit kids below 13 to sign up and neither should you.
- Have a list of people your child can keep in touch through e-mails. Strict rule here –No strangers allowed.
- You-Tube is great for fun and learning but supervise your child for user management to circumvent checking and uploading obscene or violent content
- There is absolutely no need for kids below 16 to go on chat rooms. They can talk to their friends on the phone if they want. They must not share details like name, school and phone numbers with strangers and mere acquaintances
- Always keep the communication channels open. They must trust you enough to bring to you their fears and doubts and report unsavoury behaviour on the net. You must encourage them to do so by sharing your or others experience
- Teach kids never to accept rudeness, uncharitable words and mean actions. Teach them to respect themselves and not let peer pressure affect them negatively
- Don’t try to win over kids with the latest gadgets, instead spend more time together. Go out, have a picnic, a joyride, meet family and friends, let them develop values and family bonding
Always remember, you are the parent and so have the right to say ‘NO’… kids need you to set boundaries for them else they grow up wayward and could become easy targets for online criminals.