Safer Internet Day: Reflecting on children’s online safety.

2020 has had a rocky start for several popular tweeps who have already experienced online bullying. On one account; a tweep posted a childhood throwback alongside his current photo, which sparked a nasty conversation about his looks. Another tweep had her counterparts publicly air her dirty laundry, while the third account was one of a mama fua – who uses twitter to reach out to clients in need of laundry and home cleaning services –  as she seemed unworthy to some to be on twitter. In fact, a tweep advised her to sell her phone( which she uses to access twitter) and use the money to cater for her money woes.

The hard truth is cyberbullying of any kind can break down even the hardest of hearts. It is more unfortunate when it happens to children. Children are now accessing the internet with their parents’ consent. As early as three years, kids are accessing cartoons on YouTube, watching chap app sent videos etc. Some already have social media accounts.

Parents agree that striking a balance between parental oversight and independent exploration is difficult, especially now that the children are technologically smart. Some of the raised concerns are cyberbullying and pornography.

Recently, a class 5 student opened a twitter account and has been getting a backlash due to their grammar and constant spelling mistakes. Constant criticism and name-calling will at the end expose him to negative physical, emotional and mental health issues. Research shows that children who have such an experience are more likely to experience: depression and anxiety decreased academic achievement and long term effects which translate to their adult life.

This week as we celebrate and reflect on safer internet for our children during the Safer Internet Day, our efforts should make an impact on one child at a time. John Locke once said, ” The only fence against the world is a thorough knowledge of it.” We have a starting point. Teach safe and responsible online behaviour. Go online with your child, from Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Tik Tok and the rest.

Take a day to explain to your child why cyberbullying can be damaging. The internet is like a wild bush fire that spreads so speedily and fiercely; the results can be very damaging. 

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