Monday, April 09, 2018

#MakeITsafePH - Online Safety For My Pre-Teen And For My Peace of Mind

The widespread use of the internet has given rise to the emergence of internet-related crimes such as rape, theft, bullying and piracy which made the public, especially the youth, very vulnerable. I have a nine year old (soon to be ten) daughter whose online presence is growing day by day. This is something inevitable and so, for my peace of mind and for my daughter's online safety, I have established a set of rules regarding internet usage.

Set Limits

Do not be afraid to set limits. My daughter does not have her own phone yet, while our tablet has conked out for almost a year now and has not been replaced, so monitoring her online activity is still relatively easy. She does not like this, but I told her as simply as I could that the internet is not all fun and games, some people will use it to do "bad things" to others and if we are not careful, these bad things can happen to us. I created a Facebook account for her, so she can have her own Messenger account, but I manage this and she cannot open it without my help. During school days, she gets 1-2 hours of internet time, after she does her schoolwork and chores. Since it is summer now, she gets more time, but she knows that this is limited to sites approved by me. She also asks permission before she can download anything. Of course, as she grows the limits will also change, but right now she knows that I expect her to use the internet responsibly, and she would not want to lose my trust, otherwise, there are consequences that we have agreed upon. 

Do Not Use Your Real Name, Keep Passwords Secret

When joining games, I help her create a pseudonym and a password upon registration. She is not allowed to give her real name and all registration is made using my email.  Since she is only nine, games like Roblox also puts her on limited use.  Her passwords are her secret and mine, no one else can know this.

No to Chats

I  have caught her chatting with some gamers and I have talked to her about this. She reasons out that she chats with them only about their strategy, or when asking for help and vice versa, but I told her that it is not safe to chat with strangers, even if this is only online. She is such a friendly kid and does not have a lot of filters yet. This is where good communication with your child is of utmost importance. She has to learn to be more discerning and prudent when it comes to talking to people she does not know.

Do Not Post Pictures And Videos

My daughter likes to video her cousins and friends, but it is a good thing that she still does not know how to upload these on sites like YouTube.  She has uploaded some pictures on Messenger to share with her classmates but she soon got bored with it.  I explained to her that anything she posts on the internet will remain on the internet forever, and worst, these can be used to bully or make fun of her. She was not happy about that. Now she asks for approval before posting on Messenger.

If You Do Not Feel Right, Tell Mom

It is not just being open and communicating well with our kids that is important, but also being  available to them when they need us.  They must always feel safe with us and know that no matter what, we will always love them. My daughter knows that she can talk to me anytime and she must never be afraid to tell me anything, especially when she feels threatened or unsafe.  She knows we love her unconditionally and without measure. I hope and pray that she will always know that I am there for her for as long as she needs me.

picture retrieved from: http://www.stlukescatholic.com

A 2018 report by Hootsuite, a US-based social media management platform revealed that the Philippines now has 67 million internet users, with all of them active on social media. Can you imagine the occurrence of online threats happening with this number? It is a real possibility. In fact, in the recent past there have been reports of internet fraud and cyberbullying, in and around the country.  Because of this, Globe Telecom, being a purveyor of digital lifstyle, came out with the #makeITsafePH cybersecurity and cyberwellness campaign to educate consumers about online threats and what they can do to avoid being a victim. The campaign also teaches the public the correct online etiquette, so that they would not become a source of  deplorable behavior that hurt others or is against the law. This is part of their campaign for responsible online behavior.

As parents of pre-teens we are responsible for our child's online activity, keeping them safe and responsible at the same time.  I guess this is one good reason why at my age, I keep myself updated and active, on social media...you name it, I have it 😉.  This works too for my peace of mind.

Does your pre-teen spend a lot of time online or on social media? What are their experiences?
I would love for you to share your views.

Think Happy Thoughts😊





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