This year of 2021 is becoming a lot more exciting for 5-year-old Kaira as she is getting to attend virtual classes for all her activities. The Covid-19 pandemic has opened the doors to e-learning, exposing 3 to 18-year-olds to the virtual world like never before. While online learning isn’t unusual, the security measures taken may not be sufficient this time. Children are innocent, and curious which makes them vulnerable to cybercrimes. Cyber risks such as cyber bullying have increased amongst the billions of students affected by the closure of schools. Other threats such as social media disorder, risky contact, and gaming disorder have increased amongst students. The schools and parents need to help their kids stay safe during virtual classes and other online interactions. Co-viewing classes and co-playing online games are some practical solutions, but they are not viable every time. What can be done to enhance the e-safety of your kids?
Let’s understand some potential solutions:
1. Digital citizenship
Digital citizenship or knowledge of using the technology effectively helps the kids understand the internet and be thoughtful of their actions. It enables the kids to curate a responsible and positive digital footprint. It can help the children identify the correct way of using the internet and interact meaningfully with individuals with different beliefs. Kids older than eight years can even take up the digital citizenship test. Help your kids grow as responsible tech-savvy individuals.
2. e-Safety programs
Various institutes and websites run many programs to educate parents and kids about using the internet. Interland by Google, McAfee online safety program, internetmatters.org, and Childnet international are some of the sources that provide such programs. They teach about different controls and privacy settings and offer resources to understanding the dos and don’ts on the internet. The best part about such programs is that they provide age-specific programs which every kid can quickly grasp. Parents should enquire if the schools have enrolled in such programs. They can even personally let their children access these programs.
3. Privacy protection
Personal information shared during the online class or online session can be stolen by anti-social elements to be used illegally. They can also personally target children based on this information. Conventional security measures such as using anti-viruses and firewalls are a must. Explain the importance of passwords to your kids. Ensure that passwords are not shared with anyone and are changed after some time. In case anyone enquires about the password, they should immediately alert you.
4. Screen time management
Tracking the online movement of your child is very important. Parents can use parental control to ensure kids watch only educational and entertaining channels meant for kids in their absence. Technology has made parental control very easy. There are many apps and browser plugins such as Adblock plus to restrict the use of the internet by kids. A few of the apps are:
This is an internet safety app that can help parents monitor their kid’s online activity. For example, parents can block questionable content and monitor the time spent on each application.
This is another parental control app that offers every security feature, including blocking inappropriate content and monitoring online activity. This app even allows you to track your kids with real-time location.
This free tool can be used to track kid’s activity and control access to different apps. This application has everything to be an excellent parental control app, from locking the device to limiting internet usage.
5. Staying updated
- Technology is progressing at a fast speed which is being used by cybercriminals as well. New forms of cyberattacks such as SPAM and phishing keep arising every day. It becomes imperative for the parents to stay updated about these cyberattacks and the ways to counter them. Parents should inform the same to the kids.
- Children should be asked to sit in the public areas of the room, such as the dining hall, during virtual sessions for them to be under observation all the time.
- Parents should have a clear understanding of the daily activities in the school. They should understand the use of every information asked from the child. Also, they should make sure that the school has approved all the apps downloaded by the child.
6. Parent-child interaction
Frequent interaction of kids with their parents is necessary today.
- Parents should discuss internet safety aspects with their children and develop online safety plans.
- It is important to let the kids understand body safety and its boundaries to curb cases of sexual abuse. Parents should study the body language of kids. In cases of anxiety, depression, or anger, their online movement should be investigated.
- Children should be encouraged to check the reliability of every application they use.
Using technology to tackle the nuances of technology is the only way to deal with online scams in this internet era. Parents should keep an eye on what is taught in virtual classes and who the child interacts with. Staying updated with the child’s activity is the only way to progress harmoniously towards a tech-savvy future.