A smart learner or an easy target

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Dear Editor,
Life during the pandemic has been difficult for parents, guardians and children alike. Children of all ages, daily now, are turning to their devices for learning, playing games or interaction with friends. This increase in screen-time adds another layer of worry for parents and guardians. Now it has become more important to ensure that children are safe online and are making sensible decisions.
The digital environment is surrounded by prejudices and concerns above all regarding its use by children and teens. It is our duty to educate young students on how to use the Internet – and technology in general – in a responsible and safe way, in order to help them build a strong awareness of opportunities and threats of cyberspace.
The most important thing is to be honest, open and build trust. We need to explain why it’s important to be careful while online. Having these conversations early can set child off on the right foot on how to use the internet safely and how to be cyber safe.
We need to educate them on how to use secure passwords, how to identify secure WebPages, how to look out for scams and many other foundational skills. Be sure to ask your child questions about what they do online, such as what sites they visit and who they talk to.
Today’s children and young students have the innate ability to navigate and use technological devices. Kids and teens take technology classes everyday, they surf the Web for their projects, and they use Internet during their spare time too, playing online video games, sharing their experiences on social networks and doing all sorts of ‘digital things’.
Children and teens see the internet as a great big thing able to provide them with tons of answers and information about everything. They conceive the exclusively as a positive environment, without taking into consideration its flaws. Parents and teachers need to teach them if they are not careful, people with bad intentions can ruin their online experience – exactly as it can happen in the ‘reel’ life.
Today’s students think about their technology equipment as something ‘due’, something which is ‘normal’. On the contrary, they view it as a privilege or luxury.
It is important to educate them on being always alert and active when encountering suspicious messages, links, pop-up windows, to prevent their smartphones, laptops and tablets from being infected with malware or viruses.
Most importantly, students should be educated to the importance of ‘thinking before posting’. They have to understand that once they post something online – a picture, an opinion, a video – they make it available for the world to see or read. Make them learn to first analyse what they are sharing and why?
We need to make children smart learners and not easy targets of cyber frauds. Parents need to be smart enough to handle all this. Parental control apps and those built into devices, computers, and Wi-Fi routers are easy to use. These controls allow you to set access times, monitor internet activity and block website categories.
Keeping an eye on what your kids are doing online will help to keep them safe. Use this as an opportunity to discuss with your child which websites are appropriate for their age-group.
By making them understand the importance of safe usage, we can make them smart learners.
Pawan Sharma,
Jammu.

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