Social Networking And Children

How safe are Indian children on social networking sites ? – August 23, 2007- by M. Hemdev

With the growth of Social networking sites, blogging, chat rooms, or instant messaging, children today are more in danger. Over 50 percent of teenagers in USA visit social networking sites and most of them do so on a daily basis ! Indian children are catching the social networking bug too….
Some children visit these sites to increase their friends circle, some to keep in touch with friends they cannot meet, and to make plans, socialize, or share information.
Unfortunately, most children reveal a lot of personal details on their profiles which can easily be misused and their personal details can harm them even much later in life, like when they are searching for jobs etc.
Tips to children on how to behave online.
In these social networking sites, there is a profile page which asks for personal information. Ensure your screen name doesn’t reveal much about you. Children should be advised not to share personal information, telephone numbers or any other contact details on social-networking site. Children should totally refrain from chatting with strangers or adding unknown, uninvited people on their instant messenger. Chatting with known friends or relatives is fine after getting parental approval.
On social networking sites, you must restrict access to your page to a select group.( known friends/family) . Not advisable to post your photo, someone may download it, alter it or misuse it.
How can parents know if their child is/ has been a victim?

On social networking sites, almost 30 per cent of children have unknown strangers on their profiles as friends, which is very risky. Many children also post their pictures / videos on such sites or blogs which may tempt a pedophile to contact them. Often children do not tell their parents if they are a victim of cyber crime, harassment or cyber bullying.

Parents / educators should try to recognize the warning signs and symptoms. The child may appear tensed, sad, unusual mood swings, suicidal signs, nervous, anxious, headaches, upset stomach, reclusive, anti-social , loosing friends, unusually withdrawn, having trouble sleeping, appear worried when checking an email etc
Tips for parents to help protect their child.
Awareness is most important. Parents must educate themselves on the basics of cyber safety. Parental supervision is a MUST. And parents must stay involved. By taking interest, you are NOT being inquisitive ! You are being a CARING parent because you would like to preserve the purity and innocence of your child.
Some more tips for parents:
Parents could install Internet safety products like netnanny, including those that filter explicit adult or violent content, monitor a child’s Internet access, or limit time online can be installed. These are known as parental control softwares and they are available in the market.
Parents must Install latest anti virus softwares.

As far as possible, keep the computer in the family room or living room. And set time limits as per the requirements.
Parents could ask children to show you the Web pages they visit, their blogs or their profiles at networking sites if they visit any. Children should be taught never to post any personal information on any sites / blogs without their consent. Parents must keep a check on their child’s instant-messaging buddy lists and asking who each person is.
How does one complain against cyber crime in India?

If you feel harassed / stalked by someone immediately inform your parents or someone you can trust. You can also report the abuse/person to the social networking site. If you think or know anyone in danger, please contact your local police station or main control room immediately! (Phone no.100 if your are in India ). Several cyber crime cells are operational in India & their help could be taken in case of any problem. The officers are trained, qualified, friendly and are there to help you.
What does have to say in this regard ?

While it is the duty of parents to make their children internet savvy and teach them cyber safety tips, we can make a collective effort to guide our children on internet safety.
Role of teachers :- In India, teachers are asking children to surf the internet for homework help. Fine. But they should also teach them the basic rules of safe surfing & integrate internet safety programs in schools.

Role of Media: – The media too can play it’s role and help educate children and parents on internet safety.
Role of Government :- Child safety on the internet is a subject of national concern everywhere around the world because children are posting too much information about themselves and are at risk of being targeted by online predators.

Therefore, We request the Honorable Department of Education, Government of India, to make internet safety a compulsory subject in schools and include it in the syllabus of primary education. This is the internet age. Our children need to protected and know the pitfalls on the internet.

M. Hemdev

Recommended free sites / products :

1) – IMSafer ( from Mcafee) is a free service which monitors children online when they use instant messaging and social network web sites.

2) On 24th august 2010, We received an invitation to review Norton Online Family, a free web-based tool for parents to engage in their children’s online behavior and protect them from cyber crime. As part of our reviewing process, we decided to give our editorial team and some parents a test drive of the Symantec’s Norton Online Family: After testing the product, concludes : Symantec’s Norton Online Family is excellent and certainly recommend it to all parents in India concerned with cyber safety. You can read the review of Symantec’s Norton Online Family.

Norton Online Family- here’s the links to install and experience its unique features:

For more information regarding Norton Online Family, please visit the link below:

We assume they shall continue to offer it free !