PARENTS, please understand that the internet can be a dangerous place for children and it is your responsibility to enforce some boundaries and a level of supervision. Children will always be easy prey for deceitful and depraved adult attention, and the internet is the perfect platform for people who are up-to-no-good, to hide their identity. But keep reading because today, we will give you some tips to help you protect your children when they go online.
Children are at home for the time being and that means they will be looking for ways to pass the time. ‘What better way is there’ they’re bound to think, ‘than to spend time on the internet’. As a parent, you may not mind, as long as they are occupied, quiet and content.
But as fascinating and informative as the internet can be, it can also be a perilous place for children and parents need to understand this and take it seriously. There are a number of traps that children can fall into, quite innocently, while using the internet, and predators can lurk in the most unusual places.
Children like to play games online (sometimes on their iPad) with opponents. These games are so high tech that the opponent can be elsewhere in the country or even in another part of the world: the opponent can even be someone the child has never met. Meeting people on line can be tricky because some deceitful adults disguise themselves (as children) with the intention of befriending and gaining the child’s trust. After which, they might manipulate or coerce the child into doing things of a sexual or criminal nature.
Children are groomed online. Grooming is when someone deliberately sets out to befriend a child (or sometimes even an adult) for his/her own manipulative purposes. Children are especially at risk because they can be enticed with kind words and empathy. Teenagers who feel misunderstood are particularly vulnerable. Grooming usually takes place between an adult male and a child; however, any vulnerable person can fall victim to the charm of a cunning predator.
Nowadays people are very explicit online, posting pictures of everything they do and giving a step by step account of their daily lives. When children post pictures of themselves or talk about inner feelings they are putting themselves at risk. Cyberbullying does exist and it can be very hurtful to children when a (known or unknown) person makes fun of them or sends spiteful messages to make them feel unworthy. This type of emotional anguish could have long-lasting effects on a child, especially if the bullying is consistent.
Children should not give out private information, such as their name, (a user name is advised) address, phone number etc. online to anyone. Even posing and posting pictures in their school uniform should be discouraged; taking photos outside their homes can unwittingly give away their address and could put them at risk. All types of people use the internet, some have a hidden, wicked agenda, therefore, it pays to minimise the amount of information that you and your children share with the public.
Some sites can be harmful to children. These include sites with hate content or ideological teachings that may confuse a child or encourage a child to think in a certain way. There are sites that urge children to self-harm or choose other methods of self-destruction. While on line, children have access to pornography and some use their phones for sexting (sending risqué pictures to one another). They fail to realise that these images can be accessed by the World. Nothing sent, posted or browsed on the internet is totally private and information and photos shared today may cause undue sorrow and regret later on in their lives. These are some of the negative attributes of the cyber world.
This is why children must be taught to use the internet sensibly. 1)Parents should create and help manage their children’s accounts. 2) Children will do the right things online once they have been informed of the dangers and influences to which they could be exposed. They should be positively influenced by adults to behave and respond appropriately; reporting any untoward activity. 3) Children need to be empowered by adults to make critical assessments and judgement calls. They must resist any requests for personal data or invitations to adult forums or chat rooms.
4) Children must feel free to talk to their parents about any type of bullying. Cyberbullying can only be handled properly with parental support and a practical action plan. Parents should help to build a child’s resilience to petty and persuasive influences. 5) Encourage children to become critical thinkers while using the internet. Help them to understand the consequences of their actions. 6) The internet can impact a child’s social development and school work. When a child is not getting enough sleep it is time to revise his internet usage and put firm measures in place. Parents are responsible for the material to which their children are exposed.
If you are concerned about the welfare of a child call the CPA hotline on 227 0979 or write to us at email@example.com
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHILDCARE AND PROTECTION AGENCY,
MINISTRY OF SOCIAL PROTECTION