Bullet-Proofing the Internet for Your Child

Parents’ commitment to understand and monitor their children’s online activities is an issue that needs to be addressed.

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The growing number of children using the internet underscores the popularity of the internet in today’s society. While the boost in internet usage is a harbinger of the rising digital connectedness, both promising and problematic trends emerge from this landscape . These often concern monitoring and promoting healthy internet habits amidst children and young users by parents and guardians.

2010 World Bank survey reads that 4.5% of Indians per 100 inhabitants have access to internet. This is further supported by the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) report suggesting that internet usage has increased from 0.1% in 1998 to 6.9% in 2010 (released by IAMAI & IMRB). According to these statistics, there are currently 57 million active internet users. Out of these, 28.23% fall under the age group of 15-24 years and 8.13% under 15 years. In the case of teenagers, the bellwethers of the electronic frontier, the use of digital media has surpassed television watching. The versatility of internet for being content sensitive, interactive and being profiled as ‘favorite indoor entertainment’ has undoubtedly created the digital revolution. If we are not there already we are moving at breakneck speed to a time when logging onto the internet is as essential to daily activities as making a telephone call.

Children’s online activities are diverse, with an emphasis on exploration (surfing and searching) communication (instant messaging, chat rooms, emailing) and entertainment (playing games, downloading and exchanging music, pictures and videos). Learning – both informal and formal – is also an important part of the digital mix for children. However, studies in India and abroad expose some alarming facts about children’s internet activities and related parental awareness. Apart from the various physical and behavioral changes, the internet exposes children to a variety of threats like cyber-bullying, inappropriate contact by complete strangers, getting sexually explicit emails or pop-up advertisements, unethical hacking and downloads, etc. Studies also suggest a rise in online gambling through arcade-type games or online casino and in such cases, children often find their own ways to gamble. The credit for a booming internet gaming industry could very well be handed to children. The strategies for building such games like music, graphics, interactivity makes it irresistible for the children. These seemingly naïve contraptions are often responsible for the focus shift from education to vice and also possess the capacity to jeopardize online safety. The disconcerting fact is that over 51% of parents either don’t have or don’t know how to monitor their child’s internet activity and define the internet use for their kids.

There are antivirus tools like Quick Heal which has ‘Parental Control’ feature. This feature authorizes parents to monitor and configure internet access for their kids very easily. Parents need to simply restrict categories of websites (like social networking, violence, drugs etc) or mention specific websites. It also allows parents to schedule Internet access for their children so that it does not become an addiction or limit the child’s social life. Parents can also determine to what extent the child can make use of functionalities such as e-mail, web pages etc. If the internet use for the child is only for the purpose of browsing for educational purposes, the sites can be filtered accordingly (even when the parents are not at home).

The human race owes their survival to their ability to adapt to whatever their environment throws at them, our earliest ancestors learned to build fires and lived in caves to counteract cold and protect themselves from feral beasts; as time passed, they learned to cultivate crops and raise animals to meet their needs.

Now that we are in this modern age and we have moved from the forests into the urban jungle, it doesn’t mean that the adaptation stops there, as human beings, we continue to adapt to the changes in our environment whether we like it or not. One example of such adaptation in this technological age is how gadgets turned from items of luxury, into a necessity.

For most people, it is almost impossible to imagine going through their daily lives without their mobile phones and personal computers or laptops, even most professionals today use gadgets to aid them in doing their jobs, more so for people in the corporate field, whose gadgets prove invaluable because their jobs largely depend on their ability to organize their schedules and appointments.

The most in-demand gadgets out in the market today are mobile phones and handheld or tablet computers, these powerful and high-tech devices pack hundreds of useful functions and applications in their very handy frames, which makes it easier for people to carry them around wherever they please. One drawback of these gadgets is the fact that as the technology in them advances, so do their prices, some gadgets’ prices are so high that most people simply cannot afford them. That is why people look for possible answers to their dilemma, and this is where the websites that offer free gadgets to members come in.

These websites offering free gadgets claim that they are involved in a system of advertising through networking where you could supposedly get hundreds of dollars’ worth of free gadgets just by filling up forms and recruiting friends. You just have to register on their sites, leave your personal information, and meet a few requirements by accepting certain offers.

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