As India’s young population drives India’s internet consumption growth through their online usage for entertainment and digital education in the current COVID-19 lockdown situation, parents fear their children will stumble upon inappropriate information and may use the excuse of being online for school to look up inappropriate content. The findings from a recent ‘Parent Day’ survey (June 1) conducted by OLX India (estd.2009) highlights cyber-safety preparedness amongst parents and children across major cities. OLX India has launched multiple cyber safety awareness campaigns and initiatives including working closely with law enforcement authorities and educational institutes and running a dedicated OLX trust and safety helpline number to assist users to seek clarity and avoid internet-related fraudulent activities. Akanksha Dhamija, Director, Customer Centricity, OLX India talks about the findings of the second-such survey conducted by the company.
What has been the objective of OLX India’s annual surveys?
Akanksha Dhamija: OLX India’ yearly study focuses on children and adult behaviour with regards to online usage and their level of preparedness around cyber security. OLX takes cyber-safety advocacy very seriously and is constantly working to spread awareness around the issue while addressing genuine concerns and gaps in their education and knowledge. Our second-such survey was conducted with parents of children in the age group of 5 – 15 years across the metro cities of Delhi, Bombay, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. Owing to the COVID situation, adults and children are increasingly spending time indoors and invariably ending up on online platforms thus increasing the possibility of being exposed to cyber vulnerabilities. The worrying fact is most children and adults remain unaware of the cyber-threats due to the lack of cyber-safety awareness.
What are the specific outcomes of the OLX India survey conducted this year?
Akanksha Dhamija: The study reveals insights about the drastic jump in kids screen time during the lockdown and the key findings are:
Parents fear that their kids may stumble upon inappropriate information and use the excuse of being online for school to look up inappropriate content.
Despite the anxiety, 57 percent parents have not taken any online safety measures to protect their kids from being vulnerable online.
71 percent of parents however have spoken to their kids about staying safe online.
Is the survey indicative of a trend that is a cause for worry?
AD: The trend over the two-years of our survey indicates increasing screen time for children this year- an additional five hours on an average as against last year. The biggest concern voiced by parents is of their wards unknowingly accessing inappropriate information online or using studying as an excuse to access non-educational content.
Another survey conducted by OLX on ‘safe internet day’ (SID) earlier this year (February 11) had 57 percent of people confessing to not having changed their online passwords in the past six months. Such negligence on the internet clearly indicates that we as a nation are exposing ourselves to online crimes and need to take immediate steps to be digitally safe.
What does the survey reveal about initiatives by parents to control their children’s online behavior? Any suggestions regarding what parents can do?
AD: Our second edition of the survey reveals that this year, 61 percent of parents are actively monitoring the content their children are viewing online. In 2019, only 40 percent of parents did that. An overwhelming majority (63 percent) believe educating kids about online safety best practices should be a collective responsibility of parents first but the government, schools and internet providers as well.
While a lot of concern can be seen among parents, it appears many of them were not able to take immediate action due to lack of awareness. Parents are the first point of contact for children and need to take adequate measures to keep children safe since online crimes can have negative impact on the mental and physical well-being of the child. Small steps like managing screen time, guiding about online threats, engaging in other bonding activities, using technology for good and building trust in their children to share any alarming activity are few steps that must be taken to protect children from dangers lurking online.
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