Parents Concerned About Online Safety Of Children Amid COVID-19: Report
The research found that parents with children attending school online were more concerned about online safety than ones whose children attended school in-person.
A large number of parents are concerned about the online safety of their children amid a significant rise in digital influence amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report by Google. While many aspects of everyday life have moved online, right from buying groceries to paying bills, edutech has seen one of the strongest adoption in the country. Google, in a blogpost on Tuesday, said it had conducted recent research alongside its Trust Research team in Asia-Pacific (Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam) and Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico).
The research found that parents with children attending school online were more concerned about online safety than ones whose children attended school in-person, it noted. About 72 per cent of Indian parents surveyed expressed increased concern about online safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, it added. About 38 per cent parents said they were concerned about safety of child's information and cited common issues like scams and account hacking.
Parents were also concerned about children receiving unwanted attention from strangers, and seeing inappropriate content online. More than a third (40 per cent) parents interviewed said they have never spoken to their children about online safety, and approximately 62 per cent parents said they are using online family safety features.
Google Online Safety Education Lead Lucian Teo suggested ways to keep children safe online. He suggested that children should be taught to choose strong passwords that cannot be easily guessed, and to opt for platforms that have a strong reputation for user safety. Mr Teo also advised parents to know who their children are talking to online.
"Social isolation is a difficult outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic, and our children connect with their friends online, whether through messaging apps or voice chat while playing games. It is important for parents to be aware that these channels can also be used by ill-intentioned strangers to reach out to our children," he said.
He added that parents should try and talk to kids about the games played or videos watched, and also the people they play with online. "We need to work hard to reassure our children that we are here to guide and protect them," he said. He pointed out that when assessing if a game is suitable for the child, it is important to check not only the content of the game, but also whether the app allows online communications with others.
"Some multiplayer games allow only a few options for social interaction, like a thumbs up rather than a text chat. This reduces risks of unwanted social interactions by quite a lot," Mr Teo said. Another time-tested tip is to allow children to use the internet only in common areas in the home such as the living room. "At the end of the day, the core of our parenting journey lies in the relationships we build with our children. They require our guidance on the internet as much as they do in the real world," he said.