ANOLENE THANGAVELU PILLAY
In a time when digital distractions are the norm and the online world often feels like a battleground of opinions, children become entangled in the relentless chaos of our online-world when they begin to seek online support. Why?
They are of the opinion that their online support possesses a level of understanding that adults particularly, their parents or guardians might lack. Parents find themselves facing a paradox.
But, what if you could use protective measures to gain control over your child’s online activities, safeguarding their digital footprint?
As our technology-driven world advances, children are becoming more captivated by technology as they grow up. Using messaging apps to share personal information with family and friends, playing online games, visiting websites and engaging with social media.
We are used to looking up information on the internet, but now we realise that it’s looking back at us. Frequent online activity leaves behind a digital trail, also called a digital footprint.
Parents, guardians and educators must understand the consequences brought about by their child’s digital footprint. Your child’s future opportunities and relationships may be affected by both positive and negative consequences of this footprint.
To successfully navigate this complexity, use emotional intelligence and personal ethics to gain a sense of calm and equilibrium.
Most of us realise that when we intentionally share information on social media and upload pictures, we lose some degree of privacy. If your child unknowingly enables location services, shares personal information online which includes school or contact details, their physical safety is at risk.
Establish a habit to securely navigate your child’s online world when preparing for school assignments, tests and examinations. Be mindful of the privacy settings and parental controls that you have in place and have open conversations with your children about their online limitations.
Why should parents allow their children to have privacy? Through this act, parents’ and children’s built-in trust is strengthened. Having access to their passwords safeguards them from inappropriate content and allows you to monitor who they are communicating with on the internet.
Changing your password quarterly reduces the risks of exposure. This approach involves limiting the time a hacker can spend and minimising the damage a cybercriminal could cause. Many internet users underestimate the extent of their digital footprints or the frequency with which third parties share information when tracking their visits to any web page with a like, tweet or plus one button.
The more we engage in online activities, the greater our exposure to these risks. Identity theft is a global issue. Children are at risk of being used by hackers. An identity protection mobile app, Identity Guard uses artificial intelligence (AI) to keep you updated, monitor your online activity and alert you of any suspicious activity. Digital security tools are included to prevent hackers from accessing your personal information.
Safeguard your child’s online reputation. Digital footprints can be taken out of context and misinterpreted. Every interaction that your child has online contributes to their online reputation.
Ensure a positive digital footprint by motivating your child to consider the content and the consequences of posting it. Instil a grounded perspective virtue in our children’s hearts and minds to empower them to discover contentment and joy in the present moment.
World-class experts around the world have come up with algorithms to capture your attention for as long as possible, taking you off balance. We notice how quickly children grow yet the limited time we have is mostly spent absorbed in our smartphones.
The term ‘presence’ is often associated with exceptional parenting. Being fully present in the current moment. Children are seeking a companion who shares their passion for life, not an authority figure.
Provide undivided attention to your child. Your child will naturally seek your help when they have questions. Be attentive to their concerns, let them know you are taking steps to safeguard them and are there to take care of them.
Encourage them to participate in activities that push their limits and inspire perseverance. By encouraging self-awareness, we guide them towards developing empathy, integrity and a strong moral compass. Being a responsible digital parent requires practising self-examination. It is through our actions, choices and values we instil in our children, that the essence of exceptional parenting is realised.
The 21st century is an era that welcomes single parents, same-sex couples, child-free couples and blended families, among others. The dynamic shift is credited to the rise of individualism, the fight for LGBTQ+ rights and the empowerment of women, who are appreciating the privilege of guiding another life.
Your dedication to safeguarding your child can guide your parenting journey, shaping their lives to inspire future generations. As parents or guardians, we have the power to shape the world, one virtuous child at a time.
Anolene Thangavelu Pillay is a Psychology Advisor.