Safer Internet for Children and Young People - Sadhana Budhathoki
Blog by a YOUth participant of ChildSafeNet cyber safety training, Sadhana Budhathoki on what she learnt in the training
We are living in a generation where every youngster is enjoying life in a fantasy of virtual world. It's a sad reality of our generation where breaking of iPhone hurts more than breaking our own legs.
Taking pictures before eating at restaurants and bars, not wearing the dresses that have been already uploaded in social media, making fake personality, hashtag at every things you do, sharing feelings with unknown and doing unnecessary internet challenges have been trending in our society. As many of us spend most of our waking hours using internet, we may be at risk of internet addiction.
People should always be aware of the danger of the internet because "Internet does not forget & does not forgive". Children are especially vulnerable to the danger of internet and could be exposed to threats like cyber-bullying, online sexual abuse, inappropriate content etc.
All over the world, thousands of children use social networking or gaming sites just to have enjoyable times, without being aware of dangerous people they may meet online. Online predators are the biggest cause of worry for parents as they cannot monitor their children every second - what they are doing in internet and by whom they are manipulated?
I had an opportunity to participate in a training on cyber security for protection of children and young people in the digital age at Microsoft Innovation Centre (MIC) Nepal , Khichapokhari, Kathmandu, conducted by ChildSafeNet. The training provided me the knowledge on how children and young people could be vulnerable to cyber crime. I also realized that my knowledge on cyber safety was not sufficient to protect myself and children from such threats.
The Founder of ChildSafeNet, Anil Raghuvanshi Sir shared his experiences and impacts of internet addiction powerfully by giving examples from real cases in our society. During the session, a young intern at ChildSafeNet shared his own experience of gaming addiction and how that impacted negatively on his behaviour and education.
Moreover, listening and participating in the discussions during the training and watching awareness videos made by ChildSafeNet, I came to know how cyber grooming affect children and young people as the groomers gradually and systematically gain trust of their victims for their abuse and exploitation, mostly for sexual abuse.
Anil Raghuvanshi Sir, presented many issues that young children are facing, such as, online child sexual abuse & exploitation, sexting , cyber-bullying, sextortion, violence and offline sexual abuse. He also shared information on suicide committed by a teenage girl in Nepal after her nude photo was shared online by his ex-boyfriend. A good support system is required to help children who face sexual abuse and exploitation.
Since most of children and young people do not have knowledge about cyber laws, helplines, reporting systems and other security issues, they find themselves helpless. Curiosity to explore new things and meet strangers online cause potential harm as they do not receive proper guidance from parents and teachers on safe use of the internet.
I received following key messages from the ChildSafeNet training for safe use of internet.
- Use strong passwords using combinations of small and capital letters, special characters & numbers. Passwords should be changed frequently and should not be shared with others.
- Block and report people who irritate you and send abusive messages
- Inform parents/guardians, teachers or trusted friends if you are abused or someone tried to harm you online.
- Do not accept friend request from strangers on social media.
- Never share your phone number/s and personal information with online friends.
- Never create, share or upload texts, photos or videos which may make you uncomfortable or could create opportunities for others to harm you.
- For help or to report cases, call following helpline numbers. It does not cost money to call these numbers.
- Child Helpline : 1098
- Nepal Police Helpline: 100