Keeping our children safe online

14 Aug

Childhood today is greatly different from what it was a decade ago.

Today it’s common to see toddlers play games and entertain themselves with ease on smartphones and tablets.

By the time children are in grade 5 or 6, they have their own cellphones on which they can spend a lot of time interacting with their peers or browsing the internet completely unfettered by parental supervision.

Although tech savvy, they lack the maturity to understand the potential dangers of the virtual world.

Today online safety extends beyond pornography; there is cyber-bullying, sexual predators, and precarious online games. With just a click your child can post information, or even unknowingly connect with dangerous online predators.

Few things you can do to keep your child safe include:

  • Educating them on the online world

The online world is replete with both useful and unsafe information as is the real world, except that the dangers in online world are many fold as you have no idea who the recipient of your posts and confidential information is.

The thumb-rule on safety for our children should be –

if they wouldn’t do it, watch it, or say it with a parent in the room, then it is not an ok thing to do.

Inform them that their posts are similar to the news being read over the PA system during assembly which mean that these posts, pictures are visible to everyone and can never be erased completely.

  • Keeping phones away at night

As a practice, keep a place at home where all phones and laptops are left to charge for the night. Not only is this beneficial for health but it keeps your child from attending to all the beeps at night.  Night-time is when kids are alone and vulnerable to a lot of dangerous stuff.

  • Limiting screen time

From the time you give them a phone it is important to establish a few rules. For every hour of screen time there needs to be at least 15 minutes of outdoor activity. I have seen it work when you sit them down and mutually decide on an ‘Acceptable Use Formula’ for using their phones.

  • Having ‘device free’ time

Even as adults it is so easy to get sucked into the limitless world of the internet. Having a few hours, say on Friday/Saturday evening, will help them learn to connect with the family, play board games or even have healthy discussions. Help them build hobbies and interest that on its own will limit their dependence on the virtual world.

 

As parents we all hope that we can keep our children away from every impending danger; but the truth is sometimes we can’t. Hence it is important that along with taking advantage of technology we also sprinkle in some involved parenting.

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