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Educating children about cyber safety

ParentsWorld invited parents of the Khaitan Public School, Ghaziabad, to share their insights on preparing children to deal with dangerous social media exposure and online games that could lead to self-harm and/or to the Blue Whale Challenge.

It is frightening to read news of teenagers falling prey to the dangerous Blue Whale Challenge. As a single working mother, I shoulder dual responsibilities. Nevertheless I am very vigilant about protecting my daughters Devagi (class VI) and Hiya (class IV). Most weekends are spent in elaborate family conversations, where we discuss about the harmful effects of excessive social media and online usage. I counsel them regularly that life has its ups and downs, and that we should draw on our inner strength and from each other to overcome them. I also encourage them to participate in extracurricular activities such as arts and music, and sports — Seema Dugar, retail entrepreneur.

I strongly believe that parents should monitor their children’s Internet usage and online activities, and have open discussions with them about the dangers of the online world. This can be done without nagging and invading their privacy, in a positive and healthy manner. We also encourage our children Rhythm (class VI) and Sanchit (class I) to participate in sports/outdoor activities, in order to canalise their energies in a positive manner, instead of being couch potatoes glued to electronic devices. As parents, we ensure open two-way communication with our children, mentoring and guiding them to take informed decisions — Bhupinder Parmar, income tax officer, Union ministry of finance.

Its tragic that an increasing number of teenagers are indulging in self-destructive behaviour to escape their emotional emptiness, loneliness and depression. In our house, we leave no stone unturned to provide positive parenting to our child Divyansh (12) and are constantly mindful of his responses, activities and behaviour. We spend a lot of time talking to him, involving him in our daily discussions and also participate in outdoor activities during weekends. Divyansh enjoys freedom but we have also set some rules for his safety, which include no interaction with strangers in public or online or venturing out to unknown places under peer pressure. We also monitor the content he navigates online through parental control settings — Vishal Pant, senior HR manager, Berger Paints India Ltd.

We believe that open communication is the best solution and make persistent efforts to hear and understand our class VI child Sparshs perspective. We proactively discuss social media trends, online games and virtual friends and discuss their positives and negatives. Sparsh is also encouraged to bring his friends home in addition to playing outdoors. As parents we should be well-informed and equip ourselves to answer questions related to online abuse and safety on social media. In case, we don’t have answers, we research the topic and then discuss it — Nitin Sasidharan, manager (quality department), DXC Technology.

Also read: Online safety: Kids safe internet browsers

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