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THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY PARENT

Digital Safety

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Nigeria internet penetration has increased to 53% which is the highest in Africa and it mobile subscription also increased to 81 percent in 2017. About 46.1% of the population had accessed the Internet in 2016.

Social media platforms have proven to be the most influential and also an alternative for sourcing information and airing personal opinion.

According to social media today an average spends a minimum of 9 hours online, which buttress the fact that online platforms have become an extension of our lives and transformed how we live. Kevin Honey Cutt once said that “Our kids are growing up on a digital playground and no one is on recess duty.”

Every day tons of social media platforms are up on App stores and we face challenging issues around how best to stay safe and safeguard our privacy online. Cases of cyber abuse, bullying, phishing, online grooming, con-artist persuading kids to provide information online are getting high and worrisome.

How can young internet users be introduced to expressing themselves on several platforms and being safe online environment? Is this the duty of parents, caregivers, educators or platforms owners?

A lot of platforms have been updating their privacy settings, creating more awareness to help their users to enjoy using digital technologies safely. It is no longer news that Google created a trove of treasure for kids, educators and parents called Be Internet Awesome and Facebook which happens to have the highest number of users is seriously taking responsibility for providing a safe space for all its users.

What are parents doing to help their kids engage safely on several platforms? Are parents’ literally busy with office work, but simply acquiring chunks of Smartphone devices as an escape route to having enough time to themselves?

Parents need to be aware of significant challenges faced with being a digital citizen and start educating their kids on how to harness the internet wisely. To start off with, you need to demonstrate commitment towards helping your kids to stay safe on Internet platforms by being Native on digital platforms other than Pilgrims.

Though, it is a bit difficult to stay abreast of all these platforms with our busy schedules. If we aren’t sensitive enough, social media and the internet would be their teachers and mentors.

Last month Snapchat created a new feature called Snapmap which made a lot of parents freak out due to the App pinning and tracking an individual to a specific point. How many parents were aware of such updated feature? Just a few I suppose!

How do we help our kids to stay safe online?

  • Learn digital from them; have an idea about what platforms they get to use, how to use them and have an idea of contents they post.
  • Invest your time and attention in the technology they use and try to follow them online. (You can turn on your notification to be notified whenever they post online)
  • Engage them in conversation about their social media lives and interact with them online. (Remember if you are not asking, they are not telling.)
  • Have a few rules about using the internet; it is better to create those rules together because it gives them a sense of responsibility.
  • Educate them about internet safety.
  • Teach them to be aware of the dangers. It is better for them to be scared than to be unaware.

Final words to parent, always have some digital detoxing with your family; that’s staying out of using digital platform for a day and bond more with your kids by playing Scrabble, outdoors etc.

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Lara Raji

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