“One of the most important accomplishments of parents, teachers, and caregivers is raising awareness with seriousness and sensitivity on the issues of child safety and internet safety because filtering websites will protect a child for a day but educating them about online safety in the real world environment will protect a child for a lifetime”
It is very important to make children familiar with how they should utilize the technology services, with the increasing amount of cyberattacks, children become easy targets of identity theft and other cyber attacks. Online popularity and a substantial friends’ list have become the new craze, mainly in the case of teenagers. However, the digital world can also bring forth anonymity, which is often abused by cybercriminals who act as trustworthy individuals or friends.
It’s necessary that you teach your child to spot red flags in any online communication with strangers, while the best course of action would be to ignore the message request, it’s easy to overlook it. It is important to teach them to be cautious about whom they befriend and lay down some of the risks they expose themselves to. If tech-savvy adults can fall into online scams and frauds, it is certain that children who are filled with curiosity but are less familiar with the cyber world can fall victims to the danger of cyberspace. In this Covid-19 pandemic, everything ranging from a well-established business to educational institutes has taken a virtual turn, educational institutions now have no other alternative than ‘joining’ virtual classrooms; as a result, children are now more exposed to the digital space than ever before. The internet is now being used to attend classes, share study resources, and also to connect with friends and family members.
TEENS AND TECH: Connecting Online
Social media is undoubtedly one of the most amazing platforms for entertainment and information, however unrestricted use of social media can cause a lot of harm. Children and adults have now been addicted to social media platforms, every little personal detail is now shared on social media which makes this sensitive information easily accessible to hackers and cyberbullies. Hackers and cybercriminals are constantly looking for vulnerable targets to attack and steal information from. Teenagers should keep their devices and information secure, behave appropriately on social media and shared devices, and respect others’ digital privacy on devices and online. Setting up some rules and guidelines for children is crucial, but a hardbound list of dos and don’t is not likely to be adhered to. As explained above, teens and children will sometimes explore where they shouldn’t without informing their parents. By creating a basic set of rules that everyone in the family needs to follow (i.e.: limiting using tablets and phones during dinner or family time, or discussing with family members or trusted adults before sharing photos or information) shows the rules aren’t to punish, but to support and guide them through the internet maze; As children grow and technology evolves, be flexible to changing rules. The most effective solution is to listen to them and help them decide on good rules and guidelines for themselves. The Covid-19 pandemic has led us to connect to family and friends through social media, however, with an unprecedented amount of reliance on smart devices and online applications from teenagers and children, basic cyber awareness is now more important than ever. Teenagers connect with the online more differently than adults do, social media is a major part of their life and sometimes it also results in negatively affecting them, distracting them, disrupting their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, rumor spreading, unrealistic views of other people’s lives and peer pressure.
EXCESSIVE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE ROLE PLAYED BY PARENTS
While social media and the internet can be informative in a variety of ways, it also contains a lot of problematic information that might be spread knowingly or unknowingly, it can also result in life-threatening experiences that can cause mental health issues and may haunt the child forever; hence, it is very important to guide the child to use the web in a more appropriate and well-informed manner. Communication through social media models modern lifestyles and relationships, also impacting family relationships. Excessive use of social media can also lead to an adverse effect on how the child thinks about himself/herself, it can lead to low self-confidence and may spread hate, jealousy, and cause depression and anxiety. With the overload and easy availability of all kinds of information on the internet, it might create a sense of pressure and the feeling of being left out. With both significant and unnecessary information being available, children can also share fake information or obscene content (in some cases, they might be bullies or harming other children) therefore, parents need to constantly monitor the child’s activity and build trustworthy relationships with them. Parents’ perceptions about social media’s effects on family systems can influence their family functioning, specifically referring to the relationship between collective family efficacy and open communications within family systems with adolescents.
The Internet also has its positive impacts, it is a lifesaver for school and college students, especially in times like these when online classes are the new norm, doing research on various subjects of their interest and building healthy relationships with their peers is also one of the main elements of the web. Other than simply talking with teens and children about online safety and civility, parents and other adult caregivers should take other actions and have technical tools at their disposal to help maintain their awareness of their child’s online activities.
To conclude, online safety is a priority in this tech-dominated era, every other thing children do or follow is influenced by their internet activities, it is extremely crucial to guide kids to enjoy the internet in a more safe environment and hence cybersecurity should also be the new ‘normal’.