Children should always be monitored and educated on the topic of online safety. File pix

Conversation on online safety has become an indispensable topic that every Malaysian parent can and should share with their precious little one.

In the time of technology diffusion, the term “connection” has become an essential thing in one’s daily life.

Technologies enable connectivity and allow us to learn faster too. No doubt the young people would grab the opportunity to understand and navigate topics they are interested in with the help of technology such as the Internet.

However, these children should always be monitored and educated on the topic of online safety.

In an analysis conducted by CyberSecurity Malaysia (CSM) with over 8,000 primary and secondary students nationwide, almost half of children aged between seven and nine own social media accounts.

With the number continuously to rise, it is important for every parent to play their role in setting curtailment on their kids regarding how much time they can spend online.

All in for safer Internet environment, Facebook listed eight guidelines for parents to know to help make Internet a safe place for children.


1. START EARLY

Introduce privacy and security protocols from an early age. Since we are not looking at number of children having access to the Internet becoming lesser, Malaysian parents should always cultivate positive habits into their kids from the early stage.


2. KEEP A HAND ON THE CONTROLS

All children are born innocent. They are curious. They only want to be loved, to learn, and to contribute in their daily lives. It is important for parents to review the content their children are consuming.

Learn about parental control features on smartphones, tablets, laptops as well as broadband connectivity.


3. SET BOUNDARIES

Talk to the kids about online safety by creating a set of “Dos” and “Don’ts”.

Yes, although Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) have blocked sites with explicit contents, there is still serious disquietude over the misuse of the Internet which, if mishandled, could prove to be “catastrophic” to the development of the children.

Therefore, parents should always understand the boundaries covering on children’s behaviour especially with topics such as gaming, chatting or messaging.


4. BE POSITIVE

As the Internet is an important asset for education and learning, every Malaysian parent should fully utilise it in helping their children grow. Learn ways of encouragement by showing websites they like and observe what they do there. This is relatively important because without any proper advice or supervision, children can be easily manipulated by what they see or hear online.

Till this day, many national as well as private schools in Malaysia have put in sufficient effort to provide suitable access to WiFi and online learning materials for as many schoolchildren as possible. Thus, parents should also play their part in this matter as well.


5. REALISTIC

Sometimes it is better for parents to understand that their kids may come across certain inappropriate content by coincidence. By acknowledging it can actually make your kids feel better. Parents should not always be too unfavourable towards their children’s discovery of the Internet.

While inappropriate or explicit content is normally meant for those aged 18 and above, a MAP’s survey conducted in 2018 found 80 per cent of Malaysian children aged 10 to 17 years old have been accessing certain inappropriate content such as pornography, violence videos and disturbing images. In addition to this, almost 89 per cent of children aged 13 to 17 fell victims of online grooming.

Hence, parents should always adapt the “realistic” approach whenever they are dealing with this matter rather than criticising the children’s mistakes.


6. MAKE A DEAL

While teaching online safety, it is important for every parent to reach accordance with children regarding a set of guidelines for Internet household usage.

In January 2018, then Women, Family and Community Development Minister, Rohani Abdul Karim revealed that nearly 80 parents of parents allow their children to own devices which allow them to go online. Nevertheless, only minimal 15.1 per cent of them forbid their children from using the devices again after an offence was committed.

It should be a common habit for every Malaysian parent to come up with a proper set of guidelines for their children once they start owning a smartphone or tablet.

This will ensure that their children learn on the ways of handling feelings and manage restlessness the right way instead by attaching themselves with the device.


7. IT’S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY

Within many social areas, it is believed that parents will always be the first and main educators.

Just like in most of other Asian countries, it is crucial for parents to be proactive educators as the children look up to their parents most.

Try to befriend them or ‘follow’ them on different social media platforms to offer safer online environment for the children to access the online world.


8. BE CONSISTENT

It is clear to every parent that their children need to be emancipated so that they are made aware of their rights and in a position to discuss about situations where their online rights are being violated.

To achieve this, parents should always follow the simple and same rules such as explaining the reason of not having any online devices at breakfast or dinner table or give important insight of why some of the online safety rules only work for adults, but not the children themselves.