Teach your child to stay safe online during lockdown

Yahoo News

In a first, NCERT has issued a series of guidelines in a bid to counter cyber-bullying. The guidelines, which are in three parts – aimed at schools, students and teachers - outline the do’s and don’ts to follow to stay safe online. Amongst others, the guidelines advice students to report and flag content that is abusive or illegal, use an alias or alternate name while chatting with people online, not share photos publicly online and report online bullying immediately to parents and teachers. It also asks students to think twice before posting any content that may cause embarrassment, is harmful or inappropriate. The guidelines aimed at teachers recommend that teachers regularly review browsing history on the devices used by the students and monitor device usage by students

With schools adopting online learning, a larger number of children around the world are accessing the internet. This increased access to technology has meant that children are more prone to cyberbullying and online predators. According to UNICEF, with school closures and containment measures, more families are relying on technology and digital solutions to keep children learning, however, not all children have the skills to keep themselves safe. In April, UNICEF had warned that millions of children are at an increased risk of harm as their lives move increasingly online during the lockdown.

In India, demand for child pornography has also increased post the lockdown, as per a report by India Child Protection Fund (ICPF). The report, disturbingly, reveals that there has been a 200 per cent increase in demand for violent material in connection with children, with metros cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai and many Tier II and capital cities also seeing the increased search.

The internet is a double-edged sword – on the one hand, it has helped ensure that for the many children who have access to it, learning does not stop. However, with more time spent online, the internet also becomes a breeding ground for online predators and sexual harassment. Hence, as parents, it is our responsibility to ensure that our children are safe, online.

Here are some steps that you can take to ensure your child’s safety:

The WHO recommends zero screen time for kids below the age of 1, and less than an hour of screen time for children under the age of five. With older kids, however, screen time limits may get more difficult to enforce, especially with schools going online. However, it is important to keep a track on the amount of time your child spends across digital devices. Set screen limits keeping in mind their school schedules and the time they spend with their friends online, now that they can’t physically meet their friends. Also, keep an eye on what your child watches to ensure that the content is age-appropriate and is not violent. Studies have proven that children who spend more time watching aggressive and violent content, grow up to be less sensitive to other people’s pain and more likely to behave aggressively with those around them. <em><strong>Image credit:</strong></em> Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/7721622-7721622/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=3826015" class="link rapid-noclick-resp" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:7721622">7721622</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=3826015" class="link rapid-noclick-resp" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Pixabay">Pixabay</a>
Monitor your child’s screen time:
The WHO recommends zero screen time for kids below the age of 1, and less than an hour of screen time for children under the age of five. With older kids, however, screen time limits may get more difficult to enforce, especially with schools going online. However, it is important to keep a track on the amount of time your child spends across digital devices. Set screen limits keeping in mind their school schedules and the time they spend with their friends online, now that they can’t physically meet their friends. Also, keep an eye on what your child watches to ensure that the content is age-appropriate and is not violent. Studies have proven that children who spend more time watching aggressive and violent content, grow up to be less sensitive to other people’s pain and more likely to behave aggressively with those around them. Image credit: Image by 7721622 from Pixabay
With kids spending more time connecting with friends or scrolling through their social media pages, they may be at a higher risk of falling prey to cyber bullies or online predators. Firstly, maintain a minimum age restriction before your child is allowed to access social media platforms. Check your child’s social media pages, their friends, browsing history, chats and profile visits. Ensure that they do not post any personal details online, including their contact number and address. Also, explain to your child the dangers of posting photographs online, especially if they are personal or inappropriate. You can also talk to your child about how they feel before using while using and after they use social media – does it make them happy or no-so-good. You can then sit together and try to manage their social media viewing based on these responses.
Stay safe on social media:
With kids spending more time connecting with friends or scrolling through their social media pages, they may be at a higher risk of falling prey to cyber bullies or online predators. Firstly, maintain a minimum age restriction before your child is allowed to access social media platforms. Check your child’s social media pages, their friends, browsing history, chats and profile visits. Ensure that they do not post any personal details online, including their contact number and address. Also, explain to your child the dangers of posting photographs online, especially if they are personal or inappropriate. You can also talk to your child about how they feel before using while using and after they use social media – does it make them happy or no-so-good. You can then sit together and try to manage their social media viewing based on these responses.
A good way to help your child become more comfortable with you monitoring their activities is by spending time with them when they are online. You can play games together, watch their favourite shows together, do activities together or even sit with them while they are on social media. If you feel your teen is much ahead of you when it comes to technology, be honest about it and ask them to teach you – this will empower them and make them responsible for their actions.   <strong>Image credit:</strong> Photo by JESHOOTS.com from Pexels
Play games together:
A good way to help your child become more comfortable with you monitoring their activities is by spending time with them when they are online. You can play games together, watch their favourite shows together, do activities together or even sit with them while they are on social media. If you feel your teen is much ahead of you when it comes to technology, be honest about it and ask them to teach you – this will empower them and make them responsible for their actions. Image credit: Photo by JESHOOTS.com from Pexels
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Set up parental safety controls and limit access to websites that are not age-appropriate. There are apps that you can download for iOS and Android – Net Nanny for younger kids, Bark for social media monitoring, eKavach to remotely monitor and supervise your child’s online activities, are all good options. These apps monitor screen time, app usage and also if your child is venturing into areas they should not be visiting. <strong>Image credit: </strong>Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/BiljaST-2868488/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=2765707" class="link rapid-noclick-resp" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Biljana Jovanovic">Biljana Jovanovic</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=2765707" class="link rapid-noclick-resp" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Pixabay">Pixabay</a>
Use parental safety controls:
Set up parental safety controls and limit access to websites that are not age-appropriate. There are apps that you can download for iOS and Android – Net Nanny for younger kids, Bark for social media monitoring, eKavach to remotely monitor and supervise your child’s online activities, are all good options. These apps monitor screen time, app usage and also if your child is venturing into areas they should not be visiting. Image credit: Image by Biljana Jovanovic from Pixabay
Ensure that your child accesses tech devices in the living room or a common room, and not in their bedrooms. Have tech-free zones where gadgets are not allowed – and ensure that you stick to the rule as well. This will allow you to keep a better check on your child’s tech usage and screen time. <em><strong>Image credit:</strong></em> Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/mojzagrebinfo-278781/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=403582" class="link rapid-noclick-resp" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Vidmir Raic">Vidmir Raic</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=403582" class="link rapid-noclick-resp" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Pixabay">Pixabay</a>
Have tech-free zones:
Ensure that your child accesses tech devices in the living room or a common room, and not in their bedrooms. Have tech-free zones where gadgets are not allowed – and ensure that you stick to the rule as well. This will allow you to keep a better check on your child’s tech usage and screen time. Image credit: Image by Vidmir Raic from Pixabay
If you find that your child has accessed content that is inappropriate, do not react impulsively and yell at your child. Stay calm, ask them how and why they have been viewing the content, talk to them patiently about online safety and how they can ensure they stay safe. If your child has been watching pornography, inform them clearly that what they have seen is not reality, rather it is a perverted version and the acts and body types they see are not the norm. However, do not shame your child or put fear in them – this will make them withdraw from you. <em><strong>Image credit:</strong></em> Photo by Polina Zimmerman from Pexels
Do not overreact:
If you find that your child has accessed content that is inappropriate, do not react impulsively and yell at your child. Stay calm, ask them how and why they have been viewing the content, talk to them patiently about online safety and how they can ensure they stay safe. If your child has been watching pornography, inform them clearly that what they have seen is not reality, rather it is a perverted version and the acts and body types they see are not the norm. However, do not shame your child or put fear in them – this will make them withdraw from you. Image credit: Photo by Polina Zimmerman from Pexels
This is an important life lesson – your child needs to know how to say ‘no’ to anything they are uncomfortable with. A friend request from a stranger, any soliciting from people they do not know/trust, any conversation with or request from a known/unknown person that makes them uncomfortable. <em><strong>Image credit:</strong></em> Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
Teach children to say No:
This is an important life lesson – your child needs to know how to say ‘no’ to anything they are uncomfortable with. A friend request from a stranger, any soliciting from people they do not know/trust, any conversation with or request from a known/unknown person that makes them uncomfortable. Image credit: Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
Remember, you are your child’s biggest role model. If you ask your child to limit their TV and internet time, ensure that you practice this as well. Be there for your child when they approach you, hold their hands through difficult situations and listen patiently when they have something to say. <em><strong>Image credit:</strong></em> Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels
Be their friend and role model:
Remember, you are your child’s biggest role model. If you ask your child to limit their TV and internet time, ensure that you practice this as well. Be there for your child when they approach you, hold their hands through difficult situations and listen patiently when they have something to say. Image credit: Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels
Communication is essential, regardless of your child's age. Talk to your child about school, their activities and their friends – both the ones they are close to and their online acquaintances. Let them know that your door is always open for them whenever they need advice or comfort. Have age-appropriate conversations about aspects such as body image, bullying and sex. Be open to them and let them know that you should be the first person they approach if they have any questions or concerns – more often than not, you will be able catch if anything is going wrong in their lives by just holding that conversation with them. <em><strong>Image credit:</strong></em> Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/photos/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=1082129" class="link rapid-noclick-resp" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Free-Photos">Free-Photos</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=1082129" class="link rapid-noclick-resp" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Pixabay">Pixabay</a>
Talk to your child:
Communication is essential, regardless of your child's age. Talk to your child about school, their activities and their friends – both the ones they are close to and their online acquaintances. Let them know that your door is always open for them whenever they need advice or comfort. Have age-appropriate conversations about aspects such as body image, bullying and sex. Be open to them and let them know that you should be the first person they approach if they have any questions or concerns – more often than not, you will be able catch if anything is going wrong in their lives by just holding that conversation with them. Image credit: Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

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