The pandemic COVID-19 has brought a lot of changes with itself that we never thought of. We all are stuck at home and are dependent on each other emotionally leading to physical activity and increased screen time. Children cannot go out and play and the dependence to entertain is all through TV or the internet. With this comes the concern of securing kids across all age groups on the internet. Cyber Peace Foundation in partnership with NCPCR, UNICEF shares tips with parents on how to keep their kids safe online:
For children less than 6 years
If your child asks to watch videos and cartoons, try to engage kids with toys or blocks rather than shifting to screen. Plan daily activities with them to and make them learn about the basic of learning by showing real things at home like A- Apple, B – ball etc.
For children aged 6-11
Accounts for children: Create a separate profile/account on devices and platforms for your children. This will help keep a track of their online activities, and also keep them safe from inappropriate content.
YouTube kids: Instead of browsing videos on YouTube, use YouTube Kids, which shows only curated age appropriate content. You can use the app or even the desktop version.
Managing screen time: To keep a check on screen time, one can use in-built features on your devices as well as apps. You can also create a family agreement, and chart out terms like no devices at the dinner table, or no games for more than one hours, as agreeable to all.
Technology for good: Learn about a new app or website together that will benefit all members of the family. This will help reinforce the idea of using technology productively, and not just for entertainment.
Building trust: Engage in conversations with your child to understand what they do online. Building confidence and trust will help foster an environment, where they feel comfortable sharing their experiences, both good and bad.
For children aged 12-17
Age limits: All apps and platforms have set their own age limits. Make sure your child uses only those that are appropriate for their age. You can use parental controls to make sure they do not access inappropriate apps and content.
Know the rules: If your child uses any social media platform, sit together with them, and go through the community standards/guidelines of the platform. This will help them understand what content and behavior are allowed on a platform and what is not. Encourage them to report anything that they may find inappropriate.
Stranger danger: Remind your child about not accepting friend requests from people they may not know but have friends in common with. Also discuss that sometimes people are not always who they say they are online.
Online threats: Talk about risks that they may face online, like grooming, bullying, stalking, etc. Children are often unaware of behaviour that may be wrong, let alone illegal. Sensitization will help the child understand when to say no and what they should report.
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Bonding activities: Watch movies, sports, news, web-series or gaming together as a family as a stress buster and an enjoyable bonding experience. But it may also be a good time for parents to recall and share almost lost traditions of storytelling, songs, word games or indoor games with children, who may be able to help them build their technological skills.
Family agreements: Work on “family agreements” based on negotiation on the time to be spent on entertainment (such as online games, watching movies, web series), advancing knowledge (revising school work, researching projects, acquiring new skills) and doing basic exercises (including exercises to prevent physical problems associated with excessive use of digital devices). (IANS)