Children from birth to adulthood have to be nurtured and moulded into responsible human beings with vision, goals and objectives, according to Warrant Officer Radhika Marimuthu, corporate communication officer from SAPS Malvern.

She said in a long life’s journey with a child, a parent has to be leader, advisor, motivator and the detractor from wrongs. “Also on this life’s journey will be impediments along a child’s path where a child has to draw from his/her values, virtues , common-sense and experience in order to differentiate between right and wrong.

“Social media has taken the world by storm on the various platforms namely Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat to mention a few, added W/O Marimuthu.

She said there are always latent dangers online for children on the web and this is a source of concern for parents. “Parents fear these potential dangers but with a little foresight, these risks can be circumvented.

“Generation gaps do exist between child and parent . It is more often than not that the parent is technology shy, which is an impediment to net surfing of their children,” added W/O Marimuthu.
“The question then begets of parents is how do they take care of their children’s safety in a cyber-world that they know and understand lesser than the children? And how can parents surmount sometimes misplaced fears and threats so parents can assure their children’s safety online?

“The starting premise is to understand the threats, risks and challenges on- line,” adds Warrant Marimuthu.
The threats have evolved. A few years ago, the culture was basically search oriented. Now the age of the users have fallen in the category of young adults, teenager and a percentage of young children.

The explicit visuals of sex , drugs, violence and cults draw children to these sites and are damaging to their minds, therefore parents have to start recognising these threats and working on them. Social networking also reaches a wide majority and their impact on the child’s mind can cause irreparable damage.

The large hand of social networking also leaves children open to sexual predators, online predators, misrepresentations and becoming prey to online impersonators. Therefore, open communication between parent and child is needed to recognise when this happens and try and stop a bad situation from growing worse.

“Parents should resort to traditional parenting measures which entail – stranger danger, parent-house rules, and constant communication. Educators and the police also play an important role in imposing safety, security and strangers as a no go zone. Where a child is more computer savvy than a parent, that parent can involve the child in teaching them about how the internet works, what surfing, downloading entails without encroaching on the child’s space,” added W/O Marimuthu
“Installation of software can help to web filter in order to prevent your child from viewing adult content. Program blocking also prevents your child from downloading content from the internet that is not age appropriate.

“Email filtering lets parents censor certain kinds of content from their child’s inbox. It also blocks emails from unwelcome addresses.

Further, there is video filtering which blocks unsavoury material from sites. All these measures are used to protect the child and create a safe environment for the child online stated W/O Marimuthu. The station commander of SAPS Malvern, Lt-Col Valarine Reddy stated that parents have a duty of care and to monitor cyber sites and be aware of exactly what their children are doing online.