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Monitor your child’s screen time:

The WHO recommends zero screen time for kids below the age of 1, and less than an hour of screen time for children under the age of five. With older kids, however, screen time limits may get more difficult to enforce, especially with schools going online. However, it is important to keep a track on the amount of time your child spends across digital devices.  Set screen limits keeping in mind their school schedules and the time they spend with their friends online, now that they can’t physically meet their friends. Also, keep an eye on what your child watches to ensure that the content is age-appropriate and is not violent. Studies have proven that children who spend more time watching aggressive and violent content, grow up to be less sensitive to other people’s pain and more likely to behave aggressively with those around them.  Image credit: Image by 7721622 from Pixabay

Teach your child to stay safe online during lockdown

In a first, NCERT has issued a series of guidelines in a bid to counter cyber-bullying. The guidelines, which are in three parts – aimed at schools, students and teachers - outline the do’s and don’ts to follow to stay safe online. Amongst others, the guidelines advice students to report and flag content that is abusive or illegal, use an alias or alternate name while chatting with people online, not share photos publicly online and report online bullying immediately to parents and teachers. It also asks students to think twice before posting any content that may cause embarrassment, is harmful or inappropriate. The guidelines aimed at teachers recommend that teachers regularly review browsing history on the devices used by the students and monitor device usage by students

With schools adopting online learning, a larger number of children around the world are accessing the internet. This increased access to technology has meant that children are more prone to cyberbullying and online predators. According to UNICEF, with school closures and containment measures, more families are relying on technology and digital solutions to keep children learning, however, not all children have the skills to keep themselves safe. In April, UNICEF had warned that millions of children are at an increased risk of harm as their lives move increasingly online during the lockdown.

In India, demand for child pornography has also increased post the lockdown, as per a report by India Child Protection Fund (ICPF). The report, disturbingly, reveals that there has been a 200 per cent increase in demand for violent material in connection with children, with metros cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai and many Tier II and capital cities also seeing the increased search.

The internet is a double-edged sword – on the one hand, it has helped ensure that for the many children who have access to it, learning does not stop. However, with more time spent online, the internet also becomes a breeding ground for online predators and sexual harassment. Hence, as parents, it is our responsibility to ensure that our children are safe, online.

Here are some steps that you can take to ensure your child’s safety: