How safe are our pre-teens, teens and young adults hooked to the internet through a zillion smart devices? Is there a safety net that protects these unsuspecting children from cyber-bullying, identity theft and phishing? To address this critical issue, search giant Google has now come out with the concept of a ‘Cyber Mom.’
Out there on the vast, unregulated world wide web, they call her the digital ‘Superhero’ for kids.
Her job: Help the young internet surfers guard against the lurking dangers, protecting them from emotional harassment, defamation and social exclusion.
So, how does one become a Cyber Mom? Sunita Mohanty, Director, Trust & Safety at Google India, had a few tips and tricks to share. Talking it out, she says, is the first step.
“Encourage your children to talk about their web experiences with you. Be vocal about your family’s rules and expectations around technology, so that children can use the internet independently.”
Open communication at home about the web, according to Mohanty, can foster trust and comfort, allowing children the safe environment to discuss any questionable content they may encounter.
But to actually get into action mode, the Cyber Mom would have to arm herself with the necessary software. Mohanty explains: “Mothers act like cushions to insulate their children from the perils of the outside world. Cyber Moms can use features like the SafeSearch filter and YouTube Restricted Mode to make sure children are not exposed to malicious or racy content as they browse.”
A watchful eye is another key requirement.
“Remember how you’ve always kept a watch on your kids in parks and playgrounds while letting them explore new surroundings? Similarly, let your kids use their devices in open spaces so you can see what they consume digitally and at the same time educate them about online safety.”
Securing secrets is also critical.
Explains Mohanty, “Cyber Moms need to teach their children that personal privacy and security are just as important online as they are offline. Teach your kids the importance of controls and help them set up secure passwords online.”
The way to do this could be along the lines of how mothers coach their
children to be wary of strangers.
“Cyber Moms can explain the practice of not sharing their passwords or other personal details with strangers online and being internet savvy.”