The online world is called a web for a reason.
Raising independent children and keeping them safe in the age of mobile internet is a raging topic these days. Actor Hugh Jackman recently revealed that he keeps a check on his kids’ phones to ensure that they are not misguided and are safe. Along with his wife, Deborra Lee Furness, the couple takes precautions and carries random checks to assure that their children, Oscar, 17 and Ava, 12 are not under any form of danger.
From sending seemingly innocent pictures to sharing locations, sexting or befriending strangers online — teenagers can end up making mistakes that could scar them for life. Having access to your child’s online world is the need of the hour feels life coach Khyati Birla. “The idea is not to keep a tab and constantly check their phone, but to make sure that you’re aware of what is happening in their lives, keeping them protected. It is important to know their mobile usage practices. This way you will not be taken off guard in case of any untoward incident,” Khyati says.
Most parents have no clue what their children are doing online or the kind of content they are exposed to. During times like these, early monitoring and involvement becomes crucial. Psychotherapist Dr Kashissh Chhabriaa shares a shocking incident. “Only recently, an eleven-year-old girl was saved in the nick of time from a paedophile. The girl befriended this guy on Snapchat and happened to meet him while on a sleepover with their common friend. It was only later that she realised that it was a trap. There was a gang of paedophiles, and they molested her friend. She managed to escape, but the incident still haunts her. The paedophile had access to her location, and it was hazardous,” she says. In this case, the parents regretted not knowing about their daughter’s online presence, and it all starts by sharing a friendly equation with them from the beginning. “Parents need to develop an open-ended, assertive communication with their children. They need to create a delicate balance between authority and friendliness,” Kashissh says.
While it is not always necessary to inform your child that you’d be monitoring their phone, an indirect hint always helps, “There are chances that they may be secretive and delete all the data before you can access it and this won’t serve the purpose. Make sure that if their phone is password protected, then you have indicated that you would like to know the password,” Khyati says. Building a protective network also helps, “Make sure that they get access to certain websites and data only after your permission, in the rat race where everybody is busy gaining followers online, the child shouldn’t fall for a trap and end up revealing their personal information to strangers,” Kashissh warns.