| by Victor Cherubim
( April 3, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Children and the young spend a lot of time in today’s world on the internet. The internet is a great attraction. It is also an educational tool. At the same time young people face many risks being exposed to “inappropriate content” hardly known to them as “cyberbulling.”
“Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place on line on social networks or through online gaming.”Children often are unaware of the interests of outside interests, but when they are enticed through peer pressure, they often feel trapped.
As is seen on social media – via SMS and chatlines – children go online to connect with friends and also make new ones, because it is the “thing to do,” to be accepted and for kudos. To browse the internet for information is a past time for many.
What children do online and through social networks is still a mystery to many parents.
Rural parents in particular, in fact busy other parents; feel at one and the same time both enchanted and often intimidated by the internet. Some are exposed to a culture which is beyond their grasp; others find their children have “graduated” to an echelon of advanced learning.
Most of all what many feel daunting is understanding what is going on, what their children do online and the risks they face searching for information on search engines.
The use of social networking websites like “Facebook,” “Twitter” and chatting on Blackberry “Messenger,” is gaining status. For children in rural schools who may not have or are able to have an active social life, the internet could well provide a way of not becoming cut off with the outside world.
Get safe –combating legal and illegal content
In the West, we often read of children complaining that someone had posted a picture of themselves on a social network site. Often it is one thing for the child to post their picture on the social media and quite another for someone else, unconnected starting to comment on it. Children feel intimidated. What they have taken to be a safe place to post their picture, is the start of an ongoing comment on it, as both peers and other unrelated, write “loads of horrible stuff.” Children feel let down. They feel they have been enticed by networks and rightly feel upset and disturbed.
The first sign that parents should note if the child is worried or upset, is the uncharacteristic behaviour, of the child at home or at school. In the case of many rural parents they may not easily notice this pattern. Rural parents are generally pleased with their children learning new things, getting help with their homework, able to express themselves diligently and connect with friends and family.
On investigation from teachers and fellow students, if a parent finds their child being intimidated by all that is available “on the world wide web,” they need to take a risk assessment of “what is out there” themselves. This is not unnecessary time consuming or compromising the demands of our fast paced world.
Every action leaves a footprint
In the internet every action or transaction leaves a footprint. The internet is scary to some, challenging to others. A footprint on the internet unlike others, can never be erased? Understanding and talking about the dangers of unmonitored use of the internet and keeping their children safe online have become an absolute necessity today.
Many children have left footprints on the web, inadvertently. Most children access inappropriate information often accidentally or for that matter intentionally through curiosity.
“I have tried to block the scurrilous comments, but the picture is still there,” say many who have been caught by their parents unawares.
Like cyber bullying, cyber security is a critical factor in today’s world for a country’s growth. It is all about high security where it is needed and pragmatism where it is not.
A nation’s security, like child safety is of paramount concern. We need to strengthen our defences and be able to combat cyber security by preparing, protecting, monitoring and responding, to make our nation’s defence’s water tight.
“Advances in technology mean that people, money and merchandise move around the world faster than ever before.” The future war for us is cyber warfare. Our leaders are well aware of this and the actions they have taken are in preparation.