PLEDGE TO BE A RESPONSIBLE CYBER MOTHER THIS MOTHER’S DAY
In this day and age, it is important for parents to handhold and protect their children from not just physical dangers but virtual ones. That’s because the internet has evolved to a platform for self expression and social interaction, with children indiscriminately indulging in information exchange leading to an increasing rate of cyber exploits. A study commissioned by McAfee on the online behavior of Indian children showed the following startling facts:
· 62% of the polled kids shared personal information online.
· 58% of the polled kids share their home addresses on the internet.
· 39% of the polled kids do not tell their parents about their online activities
· 12% of the polled kids had been victims of some kind of cyber attack
The results of this study affirm that the online behavior of children needs to be viewed seriously by Indian mothers. On the occasion of Mothers’ day, mothers should don the role of responsible cyber parent and ensure their kids are protected from cyber attacks and malpractices using the following methods-
· Work as a team to set boundaries. Discuss with your child exactly what is OK and what is not OK regarding what kind of web sites are appropriate for them, which chat rooms to visit, and what kinds of things they can talk about there. Only let your kids use monitored chat rooms. Avoid “.alt” chat rooms—they focus on alternative topics that may be inappropriate for kids. Get to know your child’s online friends as you do their school and neighbourhood friends. Learn to surf the web and chat online yourself so you understand what it is that your child is doing.
· Teaching Facebook etiquette to children: It’s important to teach kids to not believe everything on Facebook, is extremely important. They should not give much credence to those weak characters who try to avenge their hurt by insulting people or starting rumours. Deal with such people firmly by asking your kids to keep records of their statements and then deleting them from their friend lists
· Keeping communication channels open: Talking and discussions will take you a long way with your child especially if we discuss cyber threats that are more prevalent today. Referring to ones own experiences always can help you be their confidantes.
· Setting the ground rules for computer usage: Ensuring that the family computer is in a very public location and that the screen faces the room and not the back wall. Setting time during schooldays and weekends when the child can use the PC. Laying down the usual penalty systems like ‘no computer for a week’ if a rule is breached. Accompanying your child to the stores to pick up the games of his/her choice.
· Learn how to save chat session logs, how to block users, and how to report problems. You can save sessions by copying and pasting the message text into a word processing program. Most chat programs allow you to block a user by right-clicking on their name in your contact list and choosing the “Block” or “Ignore” feature. If your child has a problem with any chatter, send the copied log to the chat room moderator or administrator. You can find the contact information in the help or reporting section of the program.
· Make sure your child understands that they are never to reveal personally-identifiable information such as their real name, gender, age, school, phone number, or where they live. Have them use a chat pseudonym that is non-provocative and doesn’t hint at who they really are. They must also guard other people’s personal information, such as friends’ names and phone numbers.
· Encourage physical activity more than online activities: Ensure your child goes out and plays if he/she seems to be getting too addicted to the PC
· Don’t let your kids open attachments to email messages from friends or file-sharing services without you being there to approve and scan the content for viruses.
· Install up-to-date security software on your PC. For the most complete way to keep your children safe online, use parental control products such as McAfee Family Protection. It keeps children of all ages safe from exposure to inappropriate content, social networking risks, strangers, and other online threats.