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How Parents Can Deal With Inhibitions, Challenges About Online Safety

Online Safety Challenges
Women and children are at greater risk of cyberbullying and internet safety for kids to some extent, if not more, also depends on parents being aware of online safety challenges and their understanding of how to help their children and young adults avoid them.

In the second edition of SheThePeople’s Online Safety Summit for Women powered by Colors, we attempt at bringing together all stakeholders under one platform to explore a consolidated approach to online safety.

This particular panel titled Eyes Wide Open: What Parents Should Know About Internet Safety features professionals in their fields and also parents who help us navigate the challenges around the topic. The speakers include Psychiatrist Dr Era Dutta, Bisma from Shaikh, The Speaking Mummy and Vaishali Sudan from The Champa Tree.

In this second edition of the Online Safety Summit, we discuss ways in which parents can confront online safety challenges, how they can deal with concerns their young girls face in accessing digital space and why it’s essential to report cybercrime.


Suggested reading: Internet Safety Is As Important As Safety In Our Daily Lives


How Parents Deal With Online Safety Challenges

Online Safety Challenges

Through this session, we discuss how we can make parents more aware of online safety challenges and thus help them make online experiences risk-free for children. Bisma Shaikh, who holds massive experience working in various set-ups like child development centres, and pediatric multidisciplinary hospitals among other units, shares how the main concerns of parents she deals with are usually the first step of introducing digital mediums t their kids.

“Primary concern of parents usually lies in the notion that whether or not their kids would get addicted to screens,” she says, adding that parents are putting in the effort to navigate the ways they can control their kids’ screen addiction and at the same time not make their kids deprived of the digital world too since it plays an important role if we are to function today.

Vaishali Sudan, Founder of India’s leading and most active parenting blog The Champa Tree, brought forth a crucial topic on boundaries. Drawing from her experience, Sudan pointed out that because almost ninety per cent of people accessing the digital space are influencers, it’s important to be mindful of the comfort every person has while posting someone especially related to personal life.

“We are all being watched, whether it’s by a small group of friends or by a larger group in the public space, therefore, as we continue to use the digital space, we must know what suits us and what doesn’t and where we must draw the line in keeping our families safe,” said Sudan.

Dr Dutta, who herself is a mother and also deals with people across sections of society as a psychiatrist and specialist, gives her input. “I personally choose not to put my kid’s photos on social media because I don’t know what her opinion will be when she grows up. I have parents coming up to me who want to protect the environment where their children are expressing themselves. Another major issue I see is that everyone today has a sedentary lifestyle, especially kids of younger ages who are glued to their phones. The ways to navigate a system where kids are not deprived of technology and at the same time are active when it comes to daily life is extremely significant.”

“Parents should lead by example when it comes to accessing the digital space. They cannot reprimand children to not use digital mediums when they themselves are glued to screens. A balance between both worlds is a must and parents must show that through their actions.” – Dr Era Dutta

Online Community For Motherhood Experiences

The digital space has worked as a community for mothers as well. Women, who have for long dealt with struggles of their own alone, now have each other to talk to without fear of judgements. Sudan, who heads one of the country’s most popular blogging communities, says that apart from sharing stories of women from sections of society, what they look to create is an inspiration in the true sense.

“Struggles like postpartum depression are still not considered serious in major sections of society. Similarly, various challenges women face which were often sidelined earlier are now coming to the surface and we’re there to hear their stories. However, stories must be shared safely and must be permissible, and we ensure to do that at our platform.” – Vaishali Sudan

Both Parents And Children Must Stop Seeking Validation Online

Shaikh, who is also an RCI-certified Speech-Language Pathologist and Audiologist, articulates the connection between seeking validation and crossing the line online to do so unknowingly.

“Parents must help their kids understand right from childhood that they don’t need to constantly seek validation online and, for that, as parents we must lead by example,” said Shaikh.

Importance Of Reporting Cybercrime

As social media becomes a huge minefield hard to navigate with the influx of information available at great lengths, understanding the significance of reporting cybercrime is the need of the hour. Weighing her thoughts on this, Sudan says, “Cybercrime is such a grey area, and it’s important for the government to lay hardcore guidelines around it. I don’t know where we’re headed but we can control is how we bring this discussion into one very household, as parents and entities must come together to handle this in the way. We must not wait for a mishap to happen in order to report or understand the severity of a cybercrime.”

Healthy Conversations Instead Of Institutions: Suggestions For Parents Creating Safer Space

Shaikh shared her experience of coming in contact with small babies who have been exposed to screens from an early age and this, she adds, is one of the main reasons for cellphone addiction. “Parents must understand that the screens work differently on child’s brains. It gives them a kick, and setting certain boundaries in a healthy way can help solve this early on.”

“I have seen babies below two years of age who have already been exposed to hours length of screen tie a day.” – Bisma Shaikh

Dr Dutta suggests parents crucially must make their kids understand that “not everything on social media is as shiny as it seems they should know this right from the word go.”

Sudan weighs in on an in important tip for parents suggesting that involving children in decisions is the way forward if we want to include them and make them value our opinions as well. “‘No’ doesn’t work these days, ideas of mindful accessing digital mediums must be insulated instead of sectioning them. Families must work as a team to not just keep kids safe but the entire family unit.”

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