Internet Threats to children


I recently read about investigation that resulted in child rape charges against a 19-year-old in Salisbury with an ugly journey into the world of Internet crime and child pornography. As the investigation proceeded deeper into the underground realm of child pornography and Internet crime, this extensive nature of the danger to children goes far beyond what most of us would imagine.

Internet has proved to be a both boon as well as bane for this generation. With the rapid & intense penetration of Internet in our lives, our screen time is increasing day-by-day. Today’s world is full of information that is accessible to all age groups just with a click. This age group can be as young as 4 years to as old as 70 years. All the information, good or bad is right in front of children which can be both misused and put to good use.

Today, children are exposed to a wide variety of information on the internet. Statistics shows that approximately 80% of children who are five years of age use the Internet at least once a week. And I am astonished to know that over 60% of children from three years are watching movies on the Internet and mostly are using Internet TV. It is estimated that time spent watching TV is 47% of all time spent to the media devices by children and 90% of 5-9 year old children on a daily basis reads books for at least an hour. However, children’s screen time is increasing day-by-day every year, though the books time remains the same. Well, that is the only reason I feel that children of such an age are quite vulnerable to Internet threats. Frankly speaking, at times, they even don’t exactly know, at which link they are clicking and whether the Internet site is free of Malware, Spyware and Viruses. No doubt, many times they land up navigating child-sensitive content sites that can affect child’s psychological health. Their inquisitive mind does also have some questions about some aspects of life. They have found the answer on internet and now know how to access the tool quite well. They easily become victims as they don’t know what they’re getting themselves into when they respond to Internet predators.

With social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and many, the current generation seems to be too much obsessed with themselves. They have these so-called ‘short attention spans’ and a childlike desire for constant feedback on their lives. Well, why should someone be so much interested in what someone else has had for breakfast or gets stuck in traffic or goes out for shopping? Though the present scenario is that, children who are these social networking site users, feel the need to become mini celebrities who are watched and admired by others on a daily basis. They do things that are Facebook status worthy and keep updating about their lives on these walls because they feel that this is the only way they can define themselves by ‘people knowing about them’.

It is almost as if they are going through some kind of identity crisis…

In a sense it seems as if keeping the brain in a sort of time warp…

It is almost as if people are living in a world that is unreal where what counts is what people think of you or if they can click on you…

And to gain attention children don’t even bother to know much about whom they are adding… all they want is to have a fan following…! They don’t know that with updating almost about every move and activity, there are chances of them being kidnapped easily, too!

I am not a psychiatrist, though somewhere I feel that this growth of so-called ‘Internet friendships’ have the capability to effectively rewire a child’s brain that can result affecting their concentration, a need for instant gratification and poor non-verbal skills, such as the ability to make eye contact during conversations…!

Talking about the child rape charge in Salisbury, the fact that somehow the victim’s mother discovered those disturbing e-mails sent to her son by the criminal was the reason behind the investigation which was initiated. The e-mails were soliciting the boy to pose nude for money for pictures to be posted on a graphic Internet pornography site and criminals very clearly told victim that he earned a lot of money doing exactly the same thing. What if the victim’s mother could not have been able to get access to those emails? Imagine the mental state of the innocent who is going through such situations!

Well, the ideal solution for parents to prevent their children from falling victim to such Internet-borne child predators is, knowing where your child is wandering in the Internet. I have heard about many parents logging onto social networking sites like Facebook to spy on what their children are doing. They did it to avoid having ‘awkward conversations’ with the children but I feel the reason here is also that they feel it is the only way they could find out about their lives. Yes, ‘overprotective’ instincts are the reason… and I respect that!

On the other hand, majority of the cases are found where children know more about computers than their parents do; they even know how to hide things. At times I feel the need to pull in some kind of law enforcement to make sure that parents are educated enough about computers and the Internet so as to safeguard their children. It’s a new age. Hence parents need to be alert!

Children on the other hand may feel that their privacy gets disturbed with parents doing so. And I have come across few groups on face book such as ‘For the love of god-don’t let parents join Facebook’, with more than 7,700 group members. Well, all can say is that this is the world we live in now!

So if you feel that your child is spending a lot of time on the Internet, I recommended you to use a good Internet Security Suite that offers you with an effective ‘parental control’ feature. Because as a parent, it is your duty to take control of the website/content they are viewing or gathering information and e-security plays a major role in this. If the computer is secured and protected with the good security suite then the website/content can be guarded and children’s interest can be taken care off. There are innumerable websites that contain adult content, games and objectionable pictures or movies that can create a long lasting impression on these tender minds. Hence, a good security suite would help the parents as well as their children to answer the questions only relevant to their age and interest and the website/content which is not required can be filtered.

Also, if possible computers at home should be in places where you can walk by and see the screen, not in children’s bedrooms behind closed doors. Also a good idea is to set up all computers and be the administrators so you as a parent can control access to all its parts and programs. Avoid children being the administrators of their computers. They are capable enough to control their parents’ access to it, allowing things to be hidden!

Quite smart enough… right! 🙂

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ashley Joseph
    Aug 14, 2011 @ 06:01:07

    Hello Rakhi,

    very well written. I agree with you completely. these days parents have to be more careful when children start using computers and internet. I got to many things reading your article, which I was unaware earlier. thank you so much.

    Reply

  2. Trackback: The World We Live In . . . Teenagers and Parents « Jeff Yalden
  3. kelly
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 08:23:25

    i think that if our kids want to be threatend let them.

    Reply

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