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The world spins faster than we can understand it. Even though we benefit from the rapid development of the internet and related technologies, children might not understand the boundaries of using these technology tools. When children get unfettered access to technology, its dangers can spiral out of control. Parents and guardians have the responsibility to protect the young ones from cyber insecurity, bullying and exposure to indecent content, experts now say.
According to Kaspersky, 84
per cent of parents worldwide are worried about their children’s online safety,
The survey commissioned by Kaspersky and conducted by the market research
company Savanta said that despite this, on average, parents only spend a total
of 46 minutes talking to their children about online security through their
“Although global figures,
I feel that this situation is likely mirrored in the local market and something
that needs attention to change. With the digital world expanding continuously,
offering opportunities that cannot be ignored, we tend to be quick on the
uptake of exposing children to all things digital, to support their schooling
requirements and recreational activities,” Riaan Badenhorst, General Manager of
Kaspersky in Africa said.
He added that “However, we
should not lose sight of the fact that the digital world is also a dangerous
playground, filled with bullies and strangers that just like in the real world,
pose risk to children.”
The Kaspersky survey found
that of the respondents, over 9 in 10 children between 7 to 12-years of age
globally now have an Internet-enabled device, smartphone or tablet. Naturally,
and considering this reality, children’s privacy and security online are
becoming one of the parents’ most prominent concerns.
Some of the concerns from
the survey include children seeing harmful content, such as sexual or violent
(27%); experiencing Internet addiction (26%); and receiving
anonymous messages or content inciting them to carry out the violent or
inappropriate activity (14%).
Caleb Ndaka, Programs Lead
at Kids Comp Camp, an initiative to teach children how to use technology,
concurred that the responsibility lies at the feet of families to protect their
“A recent research said parents now spend twice as much time with their children
as 50 years ago. It is high time we questioned what the quality of time we
spend with our children is. Are we parenting while getting distracted by screen time?”
He told WeeTracker that research
shows extended screen time both by the child and parent has
a negative impact on the parent-child relationship. It has
negative social, emotional and mental effects; as well as
neuro-biological effects on children’s developing brain and addiction.
“The primary role of a
parent is to care, support and guide a child from infancy to adulthood. The
primary caregiver of a child should be their parent(s). The primary school of a
child is at home. This does not mean that the parent will always be 100%
responsible for their children’s outcomes but the parenting responsibility
squarely lies on their shoulders and so is the blame,” Ndaka reiterated.
“Essentially, people are
looking to technology and the world around them to fill an internal void – and
children are particularly sensitive to this as they are still very innocent and
rely on feedback from the world around them to begin to form their view of self
and the world,” Dr Tertia Harker, a Social
Worker with a Doctorate in Psychology in private practice in Johannesburg, Cape
Town and Durban said.
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