It is like navigating uncharted territories to guide the little ones in the right direction. While adults are expected to play an important role in helping children become safe and responsible digital citizens, you’re not alone if you are feeling lost yourself.
The safety issues in cyberspace in fact have been increasingly worrying in the past few years. Predators often pose as a child or teen looking to make friends on apps or websites that children frequent. They might prod the child to exchange personal information, such as their home address, phone number, or encourage kids to call them. Guiding children might feel tricky in such a scenario, but parents can be reassured about the safety of their children online by being aware of these important cyber safety tips:
Discovering together/Co-viewing & Co-create
Discovering the internet together, taking keen interest in kids’ activities online, favorite sites and apps can all help in building a relationship of trust between parents and kids while also ensuring their safety. It encourages social interactions, bonding and learning. It also helps parents vet the content kids are accessing, and at the same time be updated about new technologies by learning from the tech-savvy generation.
To encourage a healthy digital environment at home, rules should be formulated for children such as not signing up for sites with age restrictions, managing screen time at home, using gadgets in common areas in the house, setting family boundaries on tech free zones such as cars, bedrooms and meals.
Exercising parental controls
If parents indulge in honest conversations about use of the internet, technology and social media, they will be able to communicate the benefits of parental controls and privacy settings with their kids. It helps to explain that they want their children to be able to explore and learn online, but that there must be balance and boundaries. However, it is also imperative for adults to know where to draw the line, and not end up spying on their kids. Such behaviour can damage relationships in the long run, and create an environment of distrust.
Identifying inapt content
As with any other potentially risky activity, parents are in the best position to help their kids learn and grow. It might be a wise idea to set gadget safety rules, yet it is practically impossible to protect kids from watching inappropriate content despite best efforts. The right approach, therefore, would be to empower kids instead of controlling their online activities. Parents can do so by helping children in evaluating information and being critically aware of information found online.
Most children use the internet to improve and develop their knowledge in relation to schoolwork and personal interests. Because they are easily trusting, kids need constant guidance on how to evaluate authenticity and accuracy of the information they come across online. Parents should help children filter this information and help them understand the dangers it might pose such as suspicious links or unknown apps/websites asking for personal information, unsolicited messages from strangers and so on.
Children may stumble on adult content on the web accidentally. It’s also normal for them to be curious about off-limit content. Instead of being harsh with them, parents should encourage conversations at such times or whenever their little ones feel lost or confused about anything they encounter online.
In addition to the above tips, here are some pointers drawn up by tech giant Intel on how to keep your child safe:
Infographic Courtesy: Intel India
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to protecting kids online. However, by putting the above protective measures in place and building trust, informed parents can make for informed kids.
PC Paathshala is an industry initiative by Intel in India with The Times Of India and multiple PC ecosystem players, to enable students, teachers and parents to adapt to online learning. The platform provides easy to understand articles, videos, workshops, webinars, FAQs and much more targeted towards enabling the key stakeholders to transition from classroom learning to e-learning.
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