It is critical for parents to start the digital education of their children early on, as this can save them heartache and nasty surprises down the line as their young ones grow up.
By Alka Kapur
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools in India have switched to online education and, as a result, children are being exposed to a screen time of more than seven hours. Since they have to wander the internet more than ever, it is very important for them to understand the good and bad effects of the virtual world. Recently, social media was ablaze as screenshots of inappropriate conversations on an Instagram group of some school students came to light.
Along with the myriad benefits associated with the internet, there are also a plethora of accompanying risks, such as inappropriate content, cyberbullying and risk of online trolls. Using various apps or websites that are popular among children, predators may approach teenagers under the pretext of friendship. They might prod the child to exchange personal information, such as their home address and phone number, and might even encourage kids to call them.
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As parents, it is our responsibility to prepare for such a scenario. Therefore, it is critical for parents to start the digital education of their children early on, as this can save them heartache and nasty surprises down the line as their young ones grow up.
Let’s discuss some of the steps that you can take as a parent to prevent your children from the dark recesses of the internet world while teaching them safe navigation.
1. It is very important for your children to feel comfortable discussing their issues with you. If you develop too strict an atmosphere and label certain things as taboo and not suitable for discussion, they’ll go elsewhere to look for those answers. Often, lack of communication between parents and children is the foundation of delinquent behaviour. If their urges are not monitored and talked about, not only can your children get victimised themselves, but they can also target other children as well. Needless to say, neither of the two are scenarios you’d like to face.
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2. Teach your children about how they should conduct themselves on the internet. Explain to them the dangers and pitfalls of the internet world and instill the idea that it is not smart to share your private information on the internet – regardless of whether you trust the other person or not.
3. Educate your children about cyber-bullying and teach them to not engage in conversations with such people and report them to the concerned website if necessary. Getting into an abuse war with such people is mentally taxing and should be avoided at all costs.
4. Keep all your devices – including computers, mobile phones, tablets, etc. – up to date with the latest versions of anti-malware programmes.
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5. You can also consider enabling parental controls on certain devices to shield your children from the dangers of the internet.
(The writer is Principal, Modern Public School, Shalimar Bagh, New Delhi)
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