The internet has emerged as the lifeblood of today’s existence. Try switching off the internet for a few hours and the unease in the environment will be palpable. We all, including the kids, have become so used to being ‘connected’ all the time that sometimes existing without the internet sounds unthinkable and unbearable. There is no doubt about the benefits the internet offers to all of us, especially kids. Be it the learning resources online, or the sources of entertainment, the internet is an extremely valuable and life-changing technology. However, it comes with its own set of drawbacks and dangers. While we might be accessing the internet from the safe confines of our homes or at school, the inherent nature of the world wide web implies literally no holds no barred connectivity to all and sundry. This hyper-connectivity brings along its undesirable elements into the lives of our kids.
Internet Safety for Children
In such a scenario it is essential to deploy suitable safety measures for kids accessing the internet. This blog presents some useful tips on internet safety for kids.
Before letting your kid explore the magical world of the internet parents and schools should ensure appropriate cybersecurity measures are in place on the systems and networks that kids use to access the internet. Some of these cybersecurity measures suggested are:
– Latest and updated security patches for all software and applications being used
– Ensure that the passwords are kept safe and secure to prevent any kind of hacking from unwanted elements
– Review privacy settings to ensure kids don’t end up revealing private information to outsiders
– Firewalls and site blocking. Configure appropriate blocking and firewall mechanisms to weed out unwanted websites that might involve excessive violence-related content, pornography, etc.
Most of the cyber-attacks take place because of outdated software and security patches. It is of utmost importance to regularly update your software applications and security patches. These regular updates are done by companies in response to the latest cyber threats they foresee. Hence, we need to keep our applications updated with the latest safety updates.
Cyberbullying has emerged as a worrying phenomenon, especially for children. As per estimates, close to 40% of all teenagers have at some point been subjected to some kind of cyberbullying online. Cyberbullying can involve any mean-intentioned activity, aggression, threats, etc. Children can be subject to cyberbullying through a variety of platforms such as social media, messaging apps, emails, etc. Girls are especially more susceptible to cyberbullying while boys are seen to be engaging in some kind of cyberbullying of other kids online. Parents must keep a close watch on any signs of their child being subjected to cyberbullying online and alert the appropriate cyber crime authorities promptly.
The world wide web is infested with predators, especially sexual predators, on the lookout for innocent children to target. These predators can assume misleading digital identities to lure the kids into their nefarious web of trickery. Parents must ensure children are surfing the internet in a well-protected and private environment. Social media accounts must be restricted to private interactions only with known and trusted individuals. Open chatting platforms must be blocked. Emails and messages must be filtered for unwanted content and communication.
Avoid Public Accounts
Most social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook give you options to create a private account. This ensures that only those whom you accept as friends will be able to interact with you on such platforms. It is advised for parents to ensure that their children’s social media accounts are private. The urge to become popular on the internet in the form of an influencer can lure children into opening out to the larger unsafe and unknown world.
The internet is full of all kinds of content involving violence, extremist views, vulgar language, hate speech, pornography, fake news, etc. The extremely open and connected nature of the internet leaves a huge scope for kids to chance upon such unwanted content during their regular browsing. Parents must be mindful of such websites and sources and install necessary measures and child locks to protect kids from being exposed to such potentially damaging content.
Use Parental Control Apps
The potential dangers online can be overwhelming for parents, especially when all parents may not themselves be so tech savvy. In such situations, parental control apps are a potential way for parents to ensure the safety of kids on the internet. There are a plethora of parental control apps available in the market that do a good job of blocking out all potentially damaging and unwanted content. These apps ensure that kids browse the internet in a safe environment. These apps also provide parents with complete information and transparency on what all their kids are browsing through on the internet. These apps can also help manage the screen time of the children and can also provide timely alerts to parents in case of suspected exposure to any unsafe content online.
Parents and children can also keep the following quick tips in mind while browsing the internet:
– Only access safe websites. Such websites are indicated by “https” in their domain with the letter ‘s’ indicating a safety certification of the website. Avoid accessing websites where the letter ‘s’ is missing and the domain only says ‘http’
– Avoid sharing personal data such as the following on unknown or untrustworthy platforms
– Full name
– Home address or current location
– Photograph or videos of self
– Identity proofs such as Aadhar number or pan card number, etc.
– Phone number
– Date of birth
Also Read: Causes of Lightning and Precautions to Take
Despite all the precautions, if by any unfortunate turn of events, there is an incident, then it must be promptly reported to the appropriate authorities for further prevention and punitive actions. While cyber laws are still a nascent framework and constantly evolving, there are ample platforms provided by the Indian government to report cybercrimes.