Safeguarding Children from Online Hazards: Empowering a Secure Digital Environment

With the increased use of smartphones, tablets, and computers by children in today’s digital world our children have been exposed to serious online hazards having devastating impact over their health, social behavior, character etc. According to the latest survey carried out by Kaspersky, 84% of parents worldwide are worried about their children’s online safety. Usually, children with increased screen time are more prone to potential online risks.

Significant global efforts are underway to address the online risks faced by children, but regrettably, Pakistan lags behind in both understanding the gravity of the issue and implementing necessary measures to mitigate the associated risks. Rather, we find easy solution of giving handheld digital devices to our kids whenever they demand time and attention of their parents.

For parents, it is crucial to take proactive measures in safeguarding their children from online hazards while also meeting their educational needs in the digital realm. Parental Control Software, is basically a technical solution which provides a valuable layer of protection to kids’ online activities through standard safety controls i.e. filtering content, limiting screen time, monitor online activities, blocking unwanted contacts and generation of kid’s online activity reports for parents. Parental control software usually comes with free version having limited safety control features as well as paid version having more advance features to control kid’s online activities. Social Media applications have also introduced built-in safety tools to ensure safe usage of their platform through age restriction, filtering, blocking and restricting access to inappropriate content etc.

In Pakistan, with increasing trend of children engaging in online activities, parents need to be well aware of the available technological solutions and its usage so as to affectively monitor and implement reasonable restriction on the kid’s online activities. Such software mostly contains following features/options:

 

  • Set up filters to block or limit access to inappropriate content, websites, apps, videos, chats thus creating a safer online environment for children.
  • Limit screen timings so as to prevent excessive use of digital devices, ensuring healthy balance between online and offline activities.
  • Monitor children’s online behavior to identify potential risks being exposed to kids and address them proactively.

Social Media companies have introduced following built in control safety features. Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has also uploaded a list of Parental Control Software, including free options on its website, accessible through https://www.pta.gov.pk/assets/media/parental_control_software_10-11-2022.pdf. Whereas guidelines of various safety and control features being offered by prominent social media companies are as under:

SM platform Security and safety features URL
Parental Controls & Settings for YouTube Kids Profiles & Supervised Accounts https://support.google.com/youtubekids/answer/6172308?hl=en
Options for Parental Supervision on Meta https://www.meta.com/help/quest/articles/accounts/parental-supervision/get-parents-started-with-parental-supervision/
Getting started with Microsoft Family Safety https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/account-billing/getting-started-with-microsoft-family-safety-b6280c9d-38d7-82ff-0e4f-a6cb7e659344
Google Family Link https://guidebooks.google.com/family-link/overview/getting-started-with-family-link
Guardians Guide on Safety https://www.tiktok.com/safety/en/guardians-guide/

 

While parental control software offers a technological layer of protection, achieving lasting and meaningful results necessitates the implementation of strategies that enhance children’s well-being. Educating and counseling children through love and affection, both at school by teachers and at home by parents, become indispensable components in this endeavor. Our kids are our asset, their basic demand is time and love, if we don’t, they will search the same amongst others.  Keep in mind, if you are warm and affectionate towards your child, it will make them safe and secure and once kids feels secure, they won’t be easily trapped by an online predator.

This article was written in collaboration with Mr. Muhammad Farooq, Director WAD, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

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