risks such as inappropriate content, cyber bullying, and online predators.
Worried by the frightening numbers of people falling victim to cybercrime, Childline
Zimbabwe has come up with useful advice on web surfing fittingly titled ‘Online Safety Tips
for Children and Adults.’
Below is an abridged version of the tips:
Have someone, an adult that you can talk to about your online life
Children: Always have a trusted adult in your life that you are comfortable talking to about
your online life, good or bad.
Adults: Whether you are a parent, a guardian, a teacher or anyone else who is responsible to
the care of children, it is important that you are available as a trusted someone for children in
your life to talk to without being judgemental and reprimanding them. Create an environment
where the children around you can feel free to come to you and discuss their concerns about
their activities or interactions online.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true
Children: Online scammers and predators prey on children’s innocence, trusting nature and
material needs. To get the attention of their victims, they make offers that sound so attractive
and irresistible. When it sounds too good to be true, again reach out to a trusted adult for
advice before you go in too deep into commitments online.
Adults: Find time to discuss the internet and its dangers with children around you. Share with
them knowledge that you have on online scams and predators using experiences that others
may have gone through that you are aware of.
Set rules for internet use and follow them
Children: It is important to set rules about our internet use. This can range from how much
time you should spend online; what type of personal information you can or cannot give out
online; which internet platforms can you visit among others. Adults: It is important to set
standards or rules for children around you on their usage of the internet. It is important for
children to know what is expected of them when online and the limits of what they can and
cannot do. Do not wait until something bad happens to start creating guidelines.
Be wary of meeting online acquaintances in real life
Children: While the internet is a great platform for meeting and making new friends, some
of these supposedly new friends are not exactly what they pretend to be online. Some use
fake profiles, pretending to be much younger and loving when in fact they may be much
older and sex predators or with other dark intentions. As such, when online interactions are
graduating to meeting face-to-face, it is advisable to first consult your trusted adult about this.
Adults: As you discuss the use of the internet with children around you, discourage them
from carelessly meeting someone from the online platform in real life. Alert them to the
dangers that may come with this such as abductions and kidnappings; sexual exploitation and
abuse among other harmful things that can happen.
Limit disclosure of personal information online
Children: It’s usually a bad idea to post personal information online such as actual names,
phone numbers and addresses among others. If criminals gain access to this information, they
can use it to harm you or your family. It is even worse to share photos and videos of
yourselves, particularly private ones as these may further be shared with others you may not
have intended to access them.
Adults: Explain to your children that their lifestyle and opinions are guaranteed to change as
they grow older. With no "Take-Back" or "Delete" buttons on the internet, their personal
details such as photos and videos posted while they were still children will remain online and
can be used against them or can reflect badly on them when they are now adults.
If your online interactions become of a sexual nature, be very worried
Children: Always be alert if someone, especially a stranger, wants to talk to you about sex.
Remember that you can never be sure of the true identity or the intentions of that person.
Approaching a child or a young person in a sexual way is always a serious cause for concern
and you should tell your trusted adult, so that you or the trusted adult can report it.
Adults: Talk to children around you about sex as they grow up, especially the dangers that
come with certain sexual activity when they are still children. Let them know that the same
real life dangers of sexual activity also manifest themselves online.
Take care of your privacy
Children: Whether using a social networking site or any other online service, take care of
your privacy and that of your family and friends. You might have the feeling of being
anonymous online but collecting information from various sources can reveal too much
private information about yourself or others you are close to, including your family.
Adults: Take time to educate children around you about privacy setting online and emphasise
the dangers of publicly sharing information online on themselves and people around them.
Look around for privacy softwares and ensure that these are used to protect children online.
Treat others online the same way you would want to be treated as well
Children: The people that you interact with online are human beings with feelings just like
you so treat them with respect. Respect other people’s views, even if you don’t agree with
them, and disagree respectfully without being rude or ridiculing others.
Adults: Raise your children to be polite and respectful of people around them. Correct them
when they are being disrespectful in real life because this may also manifest online, with
undesirable consequences on others or on your children themselves.
You logged onto the website on your own, you can also log out
Children: Under no circumstances should you feel that you cannot leave a conversation or
interaction online. If you see something online that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or
worried, you can leave the website.
Adults: Empower the children in your life to know that they have control over their activities
online. Let them know that they can leave a platform anytime they want and can even report
suspicious illegal activities that make them feel unsafe to authorities.
Call Childline Zimbabwe on freephone 116 or message on WhatsApp at 0716 116 116 or
0732 116 116 for advice or report any form of harassment, abuse, exploitation or any other
inappropriate or upsetting conduct that has happened or is happening online. You can also
email Childline Zimbabwe on their website http://www.childline.org.zw
Report child online sexual videos for takedown on http://report.iwf.org.uk/zw