How to keep your child internet safe

Contributor: Priya Narayan, Features Lifestyle Writer

It is the time of the year when school project submissions are running faster than time. No doubt the internet is a boon, with information at the fingertips, but, at the same time, it can turn into a nightmare if not used with caution.

We often read and hear about the misuse of the internet by children and how they fall prey to cyberbullying. I initiated a conversation with a few of my friends who have children. I received different inputs from them regarding internet safety for them. Here are some tips from well-informed parents, which I am sure will ensure the safety of our children in the real as well as the cyber world; take a look:

1. Jagruti Bhimjiani is a resident of Mumbai; she is a teacher and mother to 13-year-old Aayushi. She has installed an AntiVirus Software on her computer along with parental lock settings in video streaming websites and browsers. This automatically blocks dangerous browsing sites that showcase adult content.

How to ensure your child is safe using the internet

2. We as parents must give enough time and opportunities for children to play, explore and enjoy themselves. We should encourage them to use the internet only for educational purpose and they should attempt to find out the answers to the various questions by observation, reasoning and discussion. This will help in creative thinking and will feed their inquisitive mind.

3. Deepa Rangpariya, a Mumbai-based homemaker and has a 12-year-old son Naman. Naman is least interested in social media but often downloads games from the internet on his father’s mobile phone. She and her spouse ensure that he does so in their presence. In case of school projects, she makes it a point to sit with her son to get information from the internet.

4. Children should be discouraged from using social media platform like Facebook to socialize. Family and friends in the real life do not substitute the “so-called friends” on Facebook. This should be explained to them so that they do not fall prey to strangers. In case they have a Facebook account, parents can gently probe about their “friends”. Frequent communication and friendly talks with children will ensure that they are not victims of cyber bullying and other issues.

5. V.G.Harish is a software professional who resides in Mumbai. He has an enthusiastic and bubbly 9-year-old son Shravan who loves to browse on the net for general information and car racing apps. First and foremost Harish has installed his PC in an area which is accessible to all. Secondly, he has instructed his son to use the computer only in the presence of either of the parents and not to share any kind of personal information on any site. Harish has also provided Shravan with a list of sites that are meant for educational content for children. He also ensures that his son takes his permission before downloading anything from the Internet.

6. Aysel Engineer is a Clinical Psychologist and Remedial Educator. She says that the use of internet is not all bad. There are positive effects in the areas of cognition, social and emotional skill development. The reason behind this usage needs to be kept in mind. If used to enhance educational pursuits, it may be positive. However, if it interferes with the social or academic functioning of the child, it’s use should be monitored.  Thus, with proper awareness of its positive and negative effects, internet usage will bring out the productive best  in a  child.

7. Reflecting on the above statement by Aysel, Master Shravan all of nine years states that as promised to his parents he plays car racing games on the internet only on Saturdays for half an hour. He is well aware that an increased usage would result in strain to the eyes and headache.

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