Monday, 17 June 2013

This Father’s Day, Pledge to Be a Cyber-Hero

Roles are changing for dads! Fathers have to play an equally crucial role as mothers in nurturing and guiding children's intellectual and social development. Being every child’s first superhero, children believe that their fathers can wield their power to overcomeevil forces. In this context, the role of fathers in handholding their children through the increasing cyber dangers become increasingly paramount. Given the male inclination and curiosity towards technology, this journey of being a dependable cyber hero can be certainly made by fathers. 

Now more than ever, fathers need to get involved in advising and guiding their digitally native children on their cyber experiences. The gravity of this matter is reflected in McAfee’s Secret Lives of Teens survey which surveyed over 1500 Indian parents and teens in 2012. The survey showed that while parental concerns prevail, teens do end up sharing more dangerous information online, contrary to their parents’ belief. This divide is attributed to the fact that Indian teens have increasingly active online lives but lack of parental assistance; substantiated through some of the following statistics- 

74% of the surveyed teens believe they shouldn’t share their mobile number, but 30% of them still do. Whereas only 28% of surveyed parents are aware that their teens posts their mobile number online. 

Even though 56% of teens are aware that they shouldn’t share intimate / personal details of themselves, still almost 12% of teens do post it online. And unfortunately only 8.5% of surveyed parents are aware of this. 

Although 31% of the surveyed teens have met their online acquaintances in real life, only 17% parents are aware of this. 

35% of the surveyed teens intentionally access nude images or pornography online, only 13.9% parents are aware of this. 

Also it is important for parents to gain the trust of their teenagers as during the survey it was found that parents believed - 36.3% teens cleared browser history, 21.2% teens Used private browsing modes, 10.3% teens disabled parental controls, 11.3% teens have configured privacy settings to hide content adults and 12.8% have hid or deleted videos. 

This suggests that there are some real threats for children online and responsible cyber parenting is the need of the hour. On the occasion of Father’s Day, here are some steps you can undertake to become a responsible cyber parent- 

Work as a team to set boundaries: Discuss with your child exactly what is OK and what is not OK regarding what kind of web sites are appropriate for them, which chat rooms to visit, and what kinds of things they can talk about there. Only let your kids use monitored chat rooms. Avoid “.alt” chat rooms—they focus on alternative topics that may be inappropriate for kids. Get to know your child’s online friends as you do their school and neighbourhood friends. Learn to surf the web and chat online yourself so you understand what it is that your child is doing. 

Teaching Facebook etiquette to children: It’s important to teach kids to not believe everything on Facebook, is extremely important. They should not give much credence to those weakacters who try to avenge their hurt by insulting people or starting rumours. Deal with such people firmly by asking your kids to keep records of their statements and then deleting them their friend lists. 

Keeping communication channels open: Talking and discussions will take you a long way with your child especially if we discuss cyber threats that are more prevalent today. Referring to ones own experiences always can help you be their confidantes. 

Setting the ground rules for computer usage: Ensuring that the family computer is in a very public location and that the screen faces the room and not the back wall. Setting time during schooldays and weekends when the child can use the PC. Laying down the usual penalty systems‘no computer for a week’ if a rule is breached. Accompanying your child to the stores to pick up the games of his/her choice. 

Learn how to save chat session logs, how to block users, and how to report problems: You can save sessions by copying and pasting the message text into a word processing program. Most chat programs allow you to block a user by right-clicking on their name in your contact list and choosing the “Block” or “Ignore” feature. If your child has a problem with any chatter, send the copied log to the chat room moderator or administrator. You can find the contact information in the help or reporting section of the program. 

Make sure your child understands that they are never to reveal personally-identifiable information such as their real name, gender, age, school, phone number, orthey live. Have them use a chat pseudonym that is non-provocative and doesn’t hint at who they really are. They must also guard other people’s personal information, such as friends’ names and phone numbers. 

Encourage physical activity more than online activities: Ensure your child goes out and plays if he/she seems to be getting too addicted to the PC. 

Don’t let your kids open attachments to email messages friends or file-sharing services without you being there to approve and scan the content for viruses. 

Install up-to-date security software on your PC: For the most complete way to keep your children safe online, use parental control products such as McAfee Total Protection. Its parental control feature keeps children ofages safe exposure to inappropriate content, social networking risks, strangers, and other online threats.

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