The COVID-19 virus has impacted all aspects of our lives. With schools closed, and lockdowns imposed, many children and young people are spending all their time at home. Much of that time may be online, and often they will spend more time online than usual. Unfortunately, this rapid transition has also increased and intensified a range of online safety risks for students, teachers and parents.As a society, we are beginning to understand the consequences of sharing our personal information online. We are becoming increasingly concerned with how our data is being used and misused.
Advances in technology present new risks to our privacy and security. Spam, scams, identity theft and fraud are just some of the risks we face when we use our devices.
However, spending time online, what some call ‘screen time’, comes with risks:
- Online sexual abuse.
- Risk-taking online behavior
- Potentially harmful content
- Children’s privacy may also be at greater risk
There are innumerable ways to ensure the online safety of students-
- Speak to your child about online safety: Now is an important opportunity to engage and communicate with your child about what they are doing online, safe and age appropriate platforms, websites and social media and the steps they take to stay safe online.
- Teach students about online privacy: Make them aware of the importance of managing their online privacy. Have an explicit conversation with them regarding the pros and cons of the connected world.
- Construct an efficient cyberbullying report system: Create an effective and efficient reporting system that’s accessible to both parents and children and follow through on every report you receive.
- Identify trusted people, either adults or peers, your child can talk to: accept that your child is not always most comfortable speaking to you as a parent, about some of the things they may encounter online.
- Manage passwords: Strong, secure passwords are essential for maintaining your privacy. Passwords should be a random combination of numbers, letters and punctuation, and should never include personal information such as birth dates or names.
- Focus on the problem of sexting: Sexting has become a significant issue and has initiated conflicts among teenagers. Discuss it openly and honestly with students and parents. The probability of students indulging in risky behavior decreases if parents are open to them.
- Respect your children’s privacy online: the sharing of family images and personal stories relating to the lockdown and related challenges, through social media is often a way of remaining connected, finding humor and seeking comfort. However, be careful that when sharing your own stories and photos, you do not share photos that may compromise your child, or affect their own privacy and protection.
These simple steps can contribute to a healthy and happy relationship around tech use between you and your children long beyond the end of COVID-19.
Article by Avantika Pandey
She is a BBA Student from Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women. She is a young and energetic girl who is always ready to learn new skills and enjoys writing a lot. Being a passionate writer, she not only writes but also encourages others to write.
Edited by- Shweta Mittal, Team SciComm