Be a responsible cyber Parent

Source: June 26, 2012 Times of India

A recent study on online behavious of Indian children shows, 62 per cent of them shared personal information online. Causing more worry were the facts that 58 per cent shared their home addresses online and 39 per cent of these kids do not tell their parent about their online activities. Little wonder that 12 per cent of the kids questioned in the poll had been victims of various forms of cyber attack.

Anindita Mishra, an expert at dealing with cyber attack, says, "The results of this study affirm that the online behaviour of children needs to be viewed seriously by Indian mothers. Mothers should don the role of responsible cyber parent and ensure their kids are protected from cyber attacks and malpractices."

Many young mothers are startled with the findings of this survey and agree with Anindita's
viewpoint. Kakoli Malik, an advertising professional and mother, says, "My 12-year-old does use the Internet for work. She accesses the sites for assignments and has her own email accounts that she uses to keep in touch with her friends. But, what I have ensured is the computer she uses is in the living area, so people can see her activities. I've also ensured that I've briefed her on the problems she could face online and taught her how to use the Internet responsibly."

And there are quite a few problems for the children indeed. Cyberbullying is one of the biggest problems that many of the youngsters face when they get online. This is where users take advantage of vulnerable people, especially kids, and exploit them through messages online and sometimes through harmful viruses and other means too.

"My 13-year-old ended up having a networking site profile because of peer pressure. He hadn't informed us and was using this discreetly since he has his laptop in his room. We realised this only when he came to us complaining that he was being taunted and mocked at online by some of his seniors in school," says Abha Sanghvi, a homemaker, whose son had been subjected to cyberbullying with insulting pictures of his being uploaded online.

Anindita says that there are many ways in which a mother can deal with such threats. "Discuss with your child exactly what is okay and what is not okay 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," she says.

Anindita also adds, "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."

Go ahead, teach your child how to browse the Internet responsibly. This Mother's Day, be that cool friend that with whom they can discuss their online problems too.

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