Dear Editor,Online activities are an integral part of children’s lives these days and they probably spend many of their working hours surfing the net. Children use the Internet to study, browse for information, socialise, or play games. These are all constructive activities and there is no doubt that children can derive tremendous benefits from the Internet.But that same wonderful environment can very easily become unhealthy, unsafe and even threatening for your children. The increasingly popular social networking sites, instant messaging programmes, and chat-rooms are just a few potentially dangerous applications that your children probably use regularly. These and among others are often misused by sexual predators and cyber bullies who are lurking around the corner, just a few clicks away.You can’t keep your children off the Internet but you can try to make it a safer place for them, by making them aware regarding safe use of internet.We must make children learn to use cautions with personal information and avoid publishing full name, school name, home address, email address, mobile or home phone numbers and images, to unknown users. It is important to use caution especially while using social networking sites such as Facebook or Instagram.Recently, my neighbour’s daughter fall prey to cyber fraud. She was buying something and shared her father’s debit card number and CVV number and within minutes a huge amount was deducted from her father’s bank account.We need to make children learn not to share passwords, user names, account IDs or PINs with anyone on any site. Before doing any shopping, they must consult elders. Teach them to be a wise internet user and do not fall prey to such fraudsters.It is our duty to make children learn never to open messages or attachments from someone you don’t know. It could be a virus, or worse – an inappropriate image or filmThese days teenagers have social accounts but make sure they only add people as friends on social networking sites and instant messaging programmes if you know then in real life. Set privacy settings so that you have to approve people to be added as a friend. I would like to share this useful information and few tips with parents through your esteemed daily. I understand that these days no one has time to act as watch dog and we all are busy with work but it is our duty to act smart and save our children from internet monster. Place the computer in an open area in your home – not in your children’s bedroom. But remember that your children have other means of accessing Internet and communicating with their peers. Pay attention to other computer and Internet-enabled mobile devices. Set clear expectations for your children, based on age and maturity.These days there are many parental control apps available on play store, (content filtering) software which can be used to help you limit the websites your children visit, monitor their online activity, limit amount of time your children spend online, block file sharing programmes and protect them from offensive content or cyber bullies. Limit and monitor the amount of time your children spend on the Internet, and at what times of day. Too much time online, especially at night, may be a sign of a problem. Make them learn Internet basics.The most important thing is to keep an open communication channel with your children, so that they trust you and feel free to approach and ask you anything or tell you about things that are bothering them. Talk to your children regularly about their online activities. Make them a smart user.Ruhani Pawan Gupta,New Plot, Jammu.
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