“Deceptive silence” .. This is a description given by education experts to a phenomenon whereby children can trap their parents in the trap of the illusion that they are living in safety, peace and tranquility with their electronic devices.
Parents feel safe when they see their child in his room, away from the evils of the street and its various dangers.
Children do not realize, or forget, that their child with its routine movements, intense focus and great silence is sailing in the most dangerous medium for the lives of children known to mankind.
In light of the wide distribution of electronic devices connected to the Internet, it is possible to imagine the size of families living the illusion due to the “deceptive silence” of their children.
What are the risks children face on the Internet? What are the ways to protect them?
33% of Internet users are children
The European Commission says that one in three Internet users is a child, which is about 33% of the world’s Internet users are children, and these children are accessing the Internet at an increasingly younger age via a variety of devices, while they are more and spend more of their time online, browsing social media, playing games and using mobile apps, often without adult supervision.
In fact, the Internet can be a wonderful thing for children, as they can use it to do research, help them with their homework, communicate with teachers and other children, and use interactive games.
But online access also carries serious risks, such as inappropriate content, cyberbullying and bullying that many young people face, and online predators who communicate with children through the apps and websites these young people interact with, and scammers who can pretend to be like a child or teen looking to find a new friend, encourage the child to exchange personal information such as home address and phone number, or encourage children to call and communicate with them in preparation for exploitation and deception.
Here parents need to be aware of what their children see and hear on the internet, who they meet and what they share about themselves, therefore parents need to talk to their children and monitor their activities rather than thinking that they are calm and safe in their rooms.
In this context, Nick Whitton, principal of JH Goodwin Primary School in the British city of Chester, warns about the apparent calmness of children while online; This “silence can be misleading,” as Wheaton confirms, in statements to the BBC, which recently published a long report on the subject.
“Children can be traumatized by the horrific videos they watch online,” explains the head of the school with 180 students, ranging in age from four and a half to 11. Ms. Whitton explains that she “sees kids as young as 6 years old playing computer games with a rating of 12.” On the Internet, we have cases of children who need medication to sleep, and this is very worrying.”
“Some of the children who come to school sleep in the classroom and don’t pay attention to their studies because they were up all night playing on their devices and phones. Some of them even organized a competition on WhatsApp, who could play the longest and stay awake the longest, and the winner was a child who sent the last message at four in the morning.”
In addition to watching inappropriate content online, or staying up late, children who are online can be vulnerable to sexual abuse; Such cases are known to British researcher Rachel O’Connell, who has studied and investigated a large number of cases related to online child abuse, and worked on statistical techniques to identify abusers, according to the BBC’s previous report.
In the course of her research, she entered the Internet pretending to be an 8-year-old who has no friends at school, and wants to make new friends online, and actually her understanding of the mentality of “predators” who prey on children let her claim that “only children are often the target”.
For her work visit Ms. O’Connell works with many schools and finds that many parents have no idea what apps their children have access to. “It seems that posting nude selfies on the internet has now become a rite of passage, which is something that parents who don’t know how to parent in the digital world don’t know,” she explains, feeling a sense of creating helplessness and confusion for them.
To get rid of this confusion and this inability, and to address this serious problem, the European Commission has developed a special strategy to deal with it with the aim of providing a safe environment for children on the Internet.
This strategy seeks to raise awareness and promote digital literacy among minors, parents and educators, and combats online child sexual abuse material through its network of hotlines (INHOPE).
Internet Safety Laws
The United States has a federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which seeks to protect children under the age of 13 when they are online and is designed to prevent anyone from obtaining a child’s personal information without a parent’s knowledge and consent Or not.
The law requires websites and online platforms to clarify their privacy policies and obtain parental consent before collecting or using a child’s personal information, such as name, address, phone number or social security number. The law also prohibits any website from requiring a child to provide personal information. Too much to play a game or enter an online competition.
Online protection tools
Online tools allow you to control your children’s access to mature material and help protect them from online predators, and many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offer parental control options. You can also find programs that help prevent access to websites and limit the transmission of personal information over the Internet, and there are other programs to monitor and track children’s online activity, according to the US Kids Health organization on its platform.
But more important than blocking dangerous material and websites is teaching your children how to behave safely and responsibly online, and here we offer you some basic instructions to share with your children and teach them for safe use online as mentioned by the previous platform.
Basic tips to share with your children
The following guidelines should be clear to your children, according to Children’s Health; Always talk to them about it, discuss it and explain it to them, and answer their questions about it, no matter what and without complaining. It is important that your child understands the risks he faces through the international network, what is:
- Follow the family rules and those set by your ISP.
- Never post or trade personal photos.
- Never reveal any personal information such as address, phone number, school name or location.
- Never share passwords with anyone except your parents.
- Never agree to meet face-to-face with someone you met online without parental permission and/or supervision.
- Never respond to threatening and intimidating emails or on social media, and tell your parents immediately.
- Always tell a parent or other trusted adult about any communication or conversation that is intimidating or hurtful.
Basic principles of parental supervision
In this context, the platform mentioned some of the basic guidelines for parents:
- Spend time online with your children to teach them appropriate online behavior.
- Place the computer in a public place where you can watch it being used, not in individual bedrooms, and also monitor any time your children spend on smartphones or tablets.
- Bookmark children’s favorite websites for easy access.
- Check your credit card and phone bills for any other unknown charges.
- Learn more about the online protection methods provided by your child’s school, if any, as well as the training and educational centers your children visit, or friends’ homes or anywhere children can use the computer without your supervision.
- Take seriously if your child reports any harassment online, many parents neglect such complaints from their children even though they can be very serious.