On the eve of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, MISSING and Feminism in India present a guide to online safety for parents of teenagers.
While technology has its advantages, it can be harmful if abused. Let’s all learn about the ‘Use and Abuse of Technology’ and become more responsible citizens on the occasion of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.
What’s Digital Footprint?
Everything that your teen does online,
- Video games
- Posting pictures
Creates a digital footprint that remains online forever even after deletion
Fact Check: The average young person aged 8–18 consumes 7.5 hours of media per day outside of school.
How to have conversations with your children about digital safety?
Begin with a non-judgmental and a positive undertone such as:
- We trust you
- This is a safe space
- We are always here to support you
- You can talk to us
And addressing teenagers as young adults can go a long way.
Things to address with your child:
- Each picture posted leaves behind a permanent digital footprint
- Links and requests from unknown people
- Cyber predators
- Illegal websites such as porn websites or those which require a VPN
- Adult websites
Fact check: Most predators look for young girls and boys to manipulate them with the pretext of love therefore talking to your children about finding love online is a must according to UNICEF.
Ways to protect young teens from cyber crimes
- One device for online activities; a computer or a tablet with parental controls gives the parents control over the teen’s digital wellbeing.
- Restricting access to unnecessary websites.
- Make digital hygiene part of your routine, such as regularly checking your passwords, clearing unnecessary apps, and logging out from all the devices every month twice.
- Practising digital security by googling your child’s name and discussing all the red flags.
Bullyproof your children
- Encourage your children to use the privacy settings
- Encourage your children to maintain decorum and civic sense online just as they do offline
- Encourage your children to check with their friends before posting their picture
- Always log out from all social media accounts after using them, especially on shared/public devices.
- Don’t believe everything that is shared online.
How to know if your child may be having a hard time online?
- They have a very violent response when it comes to their phones.
- They are hesitant to give you their phones or have stopped using the common computer/tablet.
- They are getting stressful calls from unknown numbers.
- Switching screens when you come near the computer.
- Possessing items – electronic devices or phones – you haven’t given them.
How to deal with online predators in case of threats:
- Cyber branch number and website
- National Cybercrime Reporting Helpline Number – 155260
- Financial Fraud Helpline Number – 1930
- National Help- Line – 112) (https://cybercrime.gov.in/)
- Assuring a positive response from your end as a parent.
- In the case of an elder sibling, taking help from them.
Note: Social media can be a dangerous platform, especially for young minds, therefore forming a parent community to discuss collective safety for children can also go a long way.
By teaching safe digital wellbeing, your teen can make the most out of the diverse opportunities and skills that digital platforms have to offer, such as:
- Learning new instruments
- Having a space to share their views.
- Share experiences that can even help others.
- Getting to know different people across the world who can actually impact their lives in a positive way.