Are you watchful of your child’s online behaviour?

Mother’s Day is round the corner and already my kids are asking pertinent questions regarding my desires and dreams…as if I don’t know the reason behind all this fishing. I feel happy that my kids are growing up to be caring and responsible. Like all Mothers, I too have had my share of sacrifices and sleepless nights, managing schedules and appointments, paying through the nose and working hard to ensure that they received the best education, healthcare and opportunities. All I want is that they grow up healthy, bright and active. After all, a smartly turned out child is every Mother’s dream- for she equates it to her success as a Mother.

So imagine my surprise when I went through the findings in a Synovate study, commissioned by McAfee. The study highlights the virtual habits of Indian kids across 10 Indian cities. These children, mostly from well-to-do families, have reportedly shared personal details like name, address etc with strangers online!

Some more disturbing facts:

  • 62% of all polled kids have shared personal information online
  • 58% kids share their home addresses on the internet
  • 39% of all polled kids do not tell their parents about these online activities
  • 12% of all polled kids had been victims of some kind of cyber threat

If you are a Mom of a school-going kid like me, you too must be alarmed at this and start getting nightmares. OMG!!! What do I do?

So on Mother’s Day, while enjoying a well-deserved break and luxuriating in the love and attention being bestowed on you, take a little time to learn how to protect your children online.

I suggest you bear in mind and deploy the 3S:

  • Share
  • Set rules
  • Supervise

Keep communication channels open between parents and children. Talk to your children whenever you can. Discuss the cyber threats that are prevalent today. Refer to your own experiences as a teen to help them understand that it is necessary to confide in parents to get the right answers. Make it easy for them to talk to you about everything by listening without criticising. Keep tabs on their friends and always lookout for any sudden changes in behavioural patterns and fall in school grades.

Set the ground rules for computer usage. Ensure that the family computer is in a very public location and that the screen faces the room and not the back wall. Set timings during schooldays and weekends when the child can use the PC. Lay down the usual penalty systems like ‘no computer for a week’ if a rule is breached. Go with your child to the stores to pick up the games of his/her choice. Encourage the child to go out and play if he/she seems to be getting too addicted to the PC.

Supervise the child’s online activity, like his/her other activities. You are the parent and so this is your duty and right. Keep an unobtrusive watch over the monitor when your child is online. Discourage the use of headphones when the child watches You-tube videos or other programs on the Internet. Discuss chatroom dangers: let the child know that kidnappers and paedophiles can pose as kids in chatrooms. The child should NEVER reveal personal details on the net, including full name, address, age, school/college and likes/dislikes. But remember for kids above 13, it should be, “Supervision without intrusion”.

For added safety, install complete family protection software, like McAfee Total Protection to protect your children, your important data and files as well as your PC from cyber attacks. I have done so and what a blessing it is! I can block the sites that I want as well as use the “keyword” feature to filter out objectionable and rude language from their chat sites and Instant messages. The image analysis prevents the computer from displaying inappropriate images as well. Of course I can go to these sites if I want to, but not the children, as the security system is password protected. Further, it is a boon to parents who have questions on cyber security, as the help centre is able to resolve most doubts.

Keep watching this space to ensure a safer world for your child and consequently more peace of mind for you.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!!

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Story added 11. May 2012, content source with full text you can find at link above.