Parents go to great lengths to protect their children. Our kids are becoming more familiar with the vast world of the internet as the distinction between the actual world and the virtual world becomes increasingly blurry. As children remain glued to the gadgets which risks their exposure to the darker side of the internet like hatred, trolling, or cyberbullying, parents often go into the fight-fright or flight mode. According to McAfee Cyberbullying Report, nearly 8 out of 10 individuals are subject to different types of cyberbullying in India. Out of these, around 63% faced online abuses and insults, and 59% were subject to false rumors and gossip for degrading their image. It’s crucial for parents to be aware of their child’s online activities and use certain tools and options to make sure their child has a safer online experience. (Also read: 7 ways to break smartphone addiction in children)
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Mansi Zaveri, Parenting Expert and Founder and CEO of Kidsstoppress, suggested some useful tools and options that parents need to be aware of, to help kids stay safe online.
1. Social media safety
Let’s address the elephant in the room. With more than 50% of internet penetration, attributed to India, thanks to the pandemic, the percentage of social media users has skyrocketed too. Be abreast of the changes and settings before you hand it over to your child. For example, with the newly launched Parental Supervision Tools by Instagram, you can not only supervise your teen’s activity, but are also notified of their followers and who they follow, and can manage their time limits. Also, the disappearing text option on WhatsApp is a safe option to consider when sharing sensitive information on the platform.
2. Safe search mode
Social media might be for tweens and older kids, but a simple Google search on your phone or laptop opens up the child to a world we don’t want them to witness, yet. There is a world of apps and extensions that offer Safe Search, encryption, and secured and relevant search results that should be your non-negotiable criteria.
3. Watch out for malware
Do you press the top right X button on those Anti-virus ads? Pause the next time you do. Installing the right antivirus software application on your child’s laptop helps protect from viruses, and malware with HTTPS scanning and firewalls installed.
4. Site blockers and timers
Does your child hate it when you nag them by saying “time’s up”? Save your voice. Be smart and install applications that come with site blockers and timers, so it automatically becomes inaccessible when kids spend too much time on the internet.
5. Opt-for child-friendly node where possible
Right from search engines to YouTube, to OTT platforms, there are dedicated kids mode available, that you need to start using. Right from ads and recco to results, everything that appears here is filtered and suitable for their age.
The most important pointer to remember, as parents, is to not blindly let your kids use a new app or a gadget. Read extensively about it, talk to your kids about the need for safety and if signing up for any paid/free tracking tools, ensure you also select specific categories of content, that you want to protect your child from.