cybersafety, cyber threat, cyber danger, cyber laws, kids online safety, parenting, online safety

How to Keep Kids Safe Online

According to the Children Internet Usage Study Survey, 50% of kids have already shared their personal information online to someone whom they do not know. Almost 30% of kids use the internet in ways that we parents would not approve of. More than 21% of kids have visited sites where they can chat with strangers. Around 17% of kids have visited porn sites. About 11% of kids have visited sites that offer cheat for their homework and more than 7 % of kids have visited online gambling sites through their online games.

How to recognize online dangers? The threat to the internet safety of kids is not only about cyberbullying. It is more than and beyond that. Technology rules us, and nobody is safe. Cybersecurity experts have started warning everyone against the alarming increase in the number of cybercrimes during recent times. From an individual to a big organization, anyone can be a target of cybercrime. Recent reports reveal that even the WHO has seen a dramatic increase in the number of cyberattacks directed at its staff, and email scams targeting the public at large. Since a majority of people are turning to the internet for various activities, work, and education; a larger number of cybercriminals are busy unraveling vulnerabilities to benefit them. An antivirus application installed doesn’t make our systems and mobiles completely safe.

In the recent Let’s Talk Episode on KetchupMoms FB page, we had Mr. Rohas Nagpal, a Cyber Law Expert and the Founder of the Asian School of Cyberlaw to discuss Kids Online-Safety. The discussion was an eye-opener to parents and grandparents who fail to understand the hidden consequences a child can face while staying online.

We need to unfold the three vital “R”s behind this. We need to:-
RECOGNIZE – the danger and the risk our kid might get into or already got into, knowingly or unknowingly
RESTRICT- We should adopt easy ways to restrict and save our kids from becoming a victim to this danger
RESOLVE – We should be aware of the cyber laws and whom to contact if our kid has already caught into a cybercrime plot.

How to recognize online dangers?
Children have a tendency to show off their gifts, achievements, trending styles, and often voice-out their opinions on several on-going issues with influenced information. It is scary to know about the ‘dark web’ and the browser used to access parallel internet which cannot be blocked. These dark web browsers are the hub of inappropriate materials, where discussions on drugs, stolen card information, pornography, hate speech, and many more happen. Once a child starts accessing these, it is difficult to neither monitor the usage nor understand how the child can become a victim of crimes unknowingly.

How to recognize online dangers? Parents should check –
• For warning signals like – does the child switch screens when you look or pass by their screens?
• Do they get phone calls and gifts from new friends whom you aren’t aware of?
• Behavioral systems like social withdrawal
• New visitors with whom they spend time talking in private

How to Restrict?
• Bring down the digital usage and screen time of your child – A child need not be online other than the required class hours
• Let their laptop/ screen be placed in a common room and face against the wall. This will help in supervision and the child will also hesitate to experiment with other ideas
• Think before enrolling the child into programming and coding courses. These courses not only get outdated with time, but they are of little help at the school level. Let them have other hobbies and physical playtime.

How to Resolve?
• Talk to your child more often. Discuss with them casually about the actual events and crimes happening and let them understand the repercussions themselves.
• Respect children rather than spying on them. Once they are made to feel that they are less trusted, they wouldn’t listen to you
• Parents should upgrade themselves with the latest technologies, usage and be aware of cybercrimes themselves. The child would believe and obey when they realize that the parent is more knowledgeable than them.
• Install child monitoring software on laptops and mobiles if necessary. Trustable software should have more than one million existing users and a high star rating.
• If your child faces cyberbullying, report to the school authorities immediately. Report to police if the child is taking drugs or is communicating with strangers. This can quicken the process of finding the real culprit.

Top things a child should not do –
• Educate them not to disclose personal photos, physical address, school details, gifts, credit card information of parents in social media sites. This applies to adults too.
• Never to disclose vacation information and post status when staying alone at home
• Teach them the difference between confidential information and basic information
• Never to accept friend request from strangers.
• Not to post self-videos shot inside the house. This can turn provocative
• Never leave their laptop/ pc screen on when not in use. Cover the front cameras with a sticky-note. This way, even if a hacker tries to intrude, they cannot capture videos.
• Not to use parents or grandparents mobile for downloading games or online shopping. They might end up using the bank details and spend without the elders knowing.

We realize that parenting is a huge challenge. We should follow our instincts as a parent and handle the child appropriately. Punish whenever necessary to discipline the child in the growing years. Let a gadget not overpower emotions and relationships. Let us keep our kids safe than be sorry.

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Deepa Dwarkanath

VP HR DriveIT Technologies, Hydrebad. An MBA in HR and Marketing. Also an active baker, loves cooking and reading. Was previously associated with Wandertrails as a part-time Content Writer.

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