Being Digital: How Safe For Children?
“Digitalization” Our generation is so familiar with this word. But do we really understand its meaning? Do we know about digital security? Are our children safe from cyber-crimes? Are they being conscious when they are online? Many such questions will be answered through our post.
In today’s times, it is very common that everyone maintains a digital identity. Digital identity can be of a person, an organization, a company, application etc. For simple understanding, let’s just discuss a person’s digital identity. When a person’s digital identity including personal information is publicly available, it can be referred to as the online identity of that person. By now it must have become very clear as to what is being explained above.
Digital security, in simple words, means protection of digital identity. In the era of internet, almost everyone who has access to an internet connection has a digital identity. There are many tools for this like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Gmail etc. It is not uncommon to see that the children have caught on to this trend and have the maximum use of such accounts.
Not that we know what digital security means, it is easy to understand the world of digitalization. It has become more of a trend to be on social platforms and to share your opinions, thoughts, and stories. Everyone who uses the internet also maintains many profiles online. The only thing that you need is an internet connection and you are good to go. But not only for social interactions, but people also make use of the internet for many other purposes like surfing the net for some information, or sending some data to a person sitting in another country or continent. Video calling is also possible via the internet. One can simply have a conversation with another being that has an internet connection, even if they are on the other side of the world. So we see that through the help of the internet one can easily use it for research and communication purposes. Other than these, internet banking, education sessions available on the internet, real-time updates, booking tickets, online shopping, data sharing etc. are also relevant tools now available on the internet. So there are many useful applications of the internet, but only if used wisely and carefully.
Most social profiles include your name, gender, age, marital status, education information, contact number and sometimes even the address. This constitutes your personal information which is easily accessible to the public as per their convenience. Many applications require you to have a display picture as well. So the onlooker knows how you look, where you stay and where you’ve been. Isn’t that a bit dangerous? Yes, most of the people who are your friends are known to you and so you feel no harm in sharing your personal information. But, sometimes a person who does not have very good interest for you at their hearts can cause serious damage to you. It is very common to socialize using these apps as we call it these days. With the help of a click you can share your views, your daily routines, where you went for the summer holidays, what movie you watched yesterday and many more things. That is the power of social networking these days!
Children are also smitten with these cool apps. They have to post every hour or they feel they will become less popular. Isn’t it ironic that the children have actually become less social in their real life since they have become more active on such profiles? Maintaining one profile is considered a huge task, and the kids these days have so much access that they are on many a time on more than 4 social profiles! It is baffling thought as to what they actually do being online. Yes, these profiles can be a platform to share your life with your friends, but at a tender age of 12 or 13 are the kids mature enough to know how to handle so much attention? There are many instances when kids actually add on more people to their profile just to look cool. They may not even know this person, yet they are ready to give them access to their private life. Their pictures, their outdoor details, their other details are served to such people on a platter once they have been added to their profile. This is how cyber-crimes are actually possible. Many a time, they even communicate with these people they didn’t know about just a few hours ago. Soon they become friends and plan to meet. And then god knows what can happen! The parents need to intervene and know what their kids are up to on these profiles. All the parents teach their kids to not talk to strangers. But do we really know who are kids are friends with on such profiles? Who they chat with all the time? Are these people safe for our kids?
Blame the mobile
Well well! Look at what we have here; it’s the same good old excuse! Mobile phones are an entity that has changed our lives and how! It’s a small pocket-sized edition machine that has changed the face of communication. Have a mobile phone and an internet connection and you are ready to take over the world! Most teenagers have a mobile phone. It has become a necessity for them. Being glued to their hands, they are never seen leaving their mobile phones aside. No doubt, a phone has become a symbol of social standing for them. An average teenager cannot function properly without a phone. It means that they would actually have to interact with people, something that our generation has forgotten. They live in a world where the number of likes and comments on a picture they uploaded or a status they posted matter more to them than having actual conversations with friends and family. Their interaction with friends still might be functional as they can get a hold of them on the phone and have a chat. But the main sufferers are the parents and the family members. Even during trips and outings, they are not interested in the people around them but only their mobile phones. Whether a teenager should possess a mobile phone is debatable. Even when they are out, with a call they can easily tell their parents about their whereabouts, so that is a plus. But this does not mean that they completely ignore their family and as well as their studies. It is essential to draw a line between using mobile phones and also to use such profiles carefully.
Communicate and keep tabs
The key to avoiding having any such troubles with your kids is to form some ground rules before giving them access to the internet. The parents cannot always be around when they are using their social profiles and some privacy obviously needs to be given but that does not mean you completely abandon your child! Keep asking them, questions as to what they are doing and whom they are talking to. It might be a bit nosy, but in the earlier stages when they do not know what’s best for them, the parents need to be around. Early teens go through a lot of changes through those years and need help and understanding from their parents. It is always best to explain to your child to be careful of the harmful effects of using the net. No matter how cool the number of friends may appear on your screen, do not add strangers to your profile. We very careful to not share your pictures and personal details with people you are not well acquainted with. Parents must be linked with their kid’s profiles. This just gives the kid a sense of being careful as to what they post online. The children should not fear their presence but be comfortable. Whatever they are sharing online, if it cannot be shared with their parents, they should not be posted online.
Facts for the teens
Teens often live in their own bubble. At a growing age, they do not know much about the world around them. They are beginning to think reasonably and starting to explore this world. It is important to lay out the facts in front of them now than later. They are learning and growing, so they might as well know all about the internet and the consequences of using it in a wrong manner. This is important. Children, especially teenagers, are very prone to misunderstandings and can easily lose their temper. We do not want them to take an action that they might regret later. Teens are online almost every hour of every day unless they are sleeping or in school! They can easily use their mobile phones and post away anything they want. But they should know the appropriate apps to be used and the duration for which they can use them. The parents and the teens need to come to a solution for this. Long hours of usage of mobile phones effects health and studies. Children are addicted to their mobile phones and do not indulge in physical exercises. Obesity is on an all-time rise amongst teenagers. So it is very important to maintain your health and get rid of your phone for a few hours!
Online security and cyber crimes
It is a scary world out there! And the kids need to be super careful when posting nowadays. It is often seen that children under the age of 18 are using sites not suitable for their age! Children often do not understand the consequences of not being secure online. Parents must take the initiative to teach their kids about online security. Being secured about your information that is available online is a must. Yes, it is fun to have social profiles but it is extremely vital to not indulge in activities that might hamper you in any way. There have been many cases where people who were not known in a real life, but only on the social app have actually tried to make contact offline. Then there is the case of identity theft! These cyber crimes have increased in number. Morphed pictures often surface on such social profiles where actually the user is not the person to whom the account actually belongs to. Cyberbullying has seen a hike. People often take advantage of the internet and the information available on it to cause damage to another person’s image. These acts are wrong and punishable by law.
The teenagers form a huge part of the people who use the net. It is the job of the parents to ensure their safety. Kids must be informed about digital security and the consequences that might occur if they neglect it. It is better to be safe than sorry. Make wise choices when online.