Is the Internet harming my child? Advice for parents on e-Safety website

Cyberbullying, sexual predators, horrid images infecting young minds: The internet frightens many parents. Australia is leading the world with its Children’s Esafety Commission. Hong Kong should follow.

If you are a worried parent, spend some time studying www.esafety.com.au. The government website says parents can tell whether children are being harmed online by these signs:

  • Interference with health and well-being

  • Obsession with websites or games

  • Anxiety or irritability when away from the computer or mobile

  • Increasing amounts of time spent online

  • Excessive tiredness

  • Decline in academic performance

  • Isolation from friends and offline activities

  • Headaches, eye strain or sleep disturbance.

The CEC advises parents who are concerned to:

  • Consider establishing rules on when your child can play online or use the internet

  • Help develop a schedule creating balance between online and offline time

  • Try to locate the device the child is using in a shared or visible place in the home.

 

CYBERBULLYING

What does cyberbullying look like:

  • Abusive texts and emails

  • Hurtful messages, images or videos

  • Imitating others online

  • Excluding others online

  • Humiliating others online

  • Nasty online chat and gossip

If your child is being bullied online:

  • Don’t retaliate or respond; it gives the expletive ammunition

  • Block the bully and change privacy settings

  • Report the abuse to your service provider

  • Collect evidence

  • Have the child talk to someone he or she trusts and do things they enjoy to take their minds off the offending matter

  • Help the child understand it is not their fault. They didn’t ask for it and don’t deserve it. They will get through it.

 

SEXUAL PREDATORS

 The CEC says predators will try to get a child to send and receive sexual images. Sometimes this leads to physical encounters. (District Councillor Christine Fung has spotlighted a case in Tseung Kwan O and written out it in SAI KUNG BUZZ.) Often predators get away with it because kids feel ashamed, isolated and trapped. Parents needs to equip children with the knowledge of what to beware of.

If parents discover something inappropriate, they mustn’t freak out. They need to keep open lines of communication with the child, make it clear it is not his or her fault, lift the burden off the child. For more wise advice www.esafety.com.au.

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