A Parent’s Handy Primer on Cyber Vocabulary

An Aware Child is safer Online

Part I

The net age has not only brought us new devices and opportunities, it has also led to the coining and usage of new words. Cyber vocabulary is huge and growing daily. This makes it important for us to expand our knowledge about the commonly used terms. That said, I will focus here on those terms that are frequently used or important from the point of view of cyber safety. Generally, basic list of terminologies can seem pretty long; hence, I will be dividing this primer into multi-part series for easier understanding.

Do go through the primer in detail and share with your friends.

Let’s start from the very beginning:

  1. Webpage and website:

A website is a collection of related webpages online. Each webpage has a unique address called URL (Uniform Resource Locator).

Cyber Safety Tip:

  • Keep the Internet content filter turned on – some online content may not be regulated and can include inappropriate matter (which is not suitable for minors)
  • Activate parental controls feature in the security software to restrict access to unsuitable websites
  1. Uniform Resource Locator (URL)

 URL is the web address of a web document and is like a detailed route plan.

Example: https://www.Facebook.com is the URL to access Facebook

Cyber Safety Tip:

  • Remember to identify secure websites by looking at the below steps and yes, don’t forget to educate your children on the same:
  1. Safe Web address start with https , ‘s’ stands for secured
  2. Green padlock icon in the address bar which indicates that the connection to the website is private and secure (screenshot below)

1.5

  1. Web Browser:

An application that lets a user access and display content from the Internet. Some popular web browsers are: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer

Cyber Safety Tip:

  • Allow your pre-teens to use kid-friendly browsers – By doing so, you are giving them the liberty to access the internet as well as protect them from unsuitable sites
  • To adjust your desired privacy settings (if you use Google chrome) – chrome://settings/ (screenshot below)

 2

  1. Cache:

A space where web pages you have visited are stored in your computer. Your computer brings them up whenever you search for these pages again so that it can load faster.

Cyber Safety Tip:

  • Clear the browser cache, as a first step to resolve internet speed issues (screenshot below). A few ways to find out if you are required to follow this step are:
  1. your computer slows down
  2. page looks corrupted
  3. your browser malfunctions

3

Hope this primer gave you insights on the terms used in the cyber world. Ensuring safe experience online is critical for both parents and children alike, so don’t forget to share this post with your friends and family.

Don’t miss my next blog, for the list continues…

Until then, stay safe online!

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Identifying and Addressing a Social Media Addiction among Children

Help Your Child Enjoy a Healthy Digital Life

How does your teen react when you refuse to give in to their list of demands and instead commence a ‘pep talk’? Do they stomp off into their room, bang the door, turn up the volume with loud music and sulk in the background? Or do they wallow in online self-pity and feel vindicated only after receiving a 100 likes or so for the status/ post/ tweet that helped in venting out their annoyance?

What about online friendships? Do your children measure their social life by the number of friends they have on Facebook? Have you noticed them skipping outdoor activities in favor of spending time indoors with their devices?

If the answers to the above are in the affirmative, then maybe your teen has a social media addiction which if unchecked can disrupt normal life. And beware, if you think that only girls are prone to acting like a drama queen since society portrays boys to be less prone to craving for online attention; but today’s digital kids enjoy sharing selfies and videos, thus breaking all gender stereotypes. Further, boys can be very vocal and imperious and this may take serious turns so do take cognizance of any of the above symptoms.

What is the outcome of such an addiction?

  • They get restless without their digital devices and social media platforms
  • Drop in attention span which can lead to adverse grades
  • Research by industry experts on the topic indicates that such addiction can also manifest into physical symptoms which vary from weight gain due to lack of physical activity, to poor eyesight (strain on eyes), leading to headache and even irregular sleep patterns
  • Feelings of depression & isolation

Parents must remember at all stages that their digitally-savvy kids thrive on social media platforms and for many of them, a day is not satisfactory spent unless it’s chronicled on their personalblog/Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Hangout pages. Some of them might even go to the extent of reinventing their personal profiles to make themselves seem more attractive, interesting and alluring.  Such teens, who become addicted to social media, are highly motivated by the number of likes their posts receive and may even go to dangerous lengths such as accepting unhealthy dares/pranks & uploading inappropriate video clips in an attempt to foster online attention/reputation.

On the positive side, your child might soon shake this off. But the flipside is that the need for attention and adulation might lead to the formation of an exaggerated opinion of self-grandiose; being friends with only those who admire or compliment them and worse still, bullying or shunning those who make any adverse remarks. Online drama queens/kings can be pushy, manipulative and often rude. In addition there is the danger of sharing too much online, without giving a second thought to consequences. They often ignore cyber etiquettes and cyber safety rules, befriending strangers and getting involved in online arguments.

As a responsible parent, how can you help:

  • Be patient: This might be a phase that will pass off
  • Be understanding: Teens are under a lot of peer pressure. Parents will gain their confidence by understanding this simple fact
  • Support but not coddle: Be there for your child, always; but refrain from being overprotective, adulating parents. Otherwise you will be helping them to cement their opinion of high self-worth
  • Talk : Have a clear, focused strategy about how to guide.
  • Teach them accountability: When your children sign up on social media you need to educate them on accountability. Instil in their minds the fact that they alone are responsible for what they upload. Inform them that all that they share will remain online forever, even after the content is deleted. There can be many kinds of consequences, including legal ones. Teach them to think well before they connect and post.
  • Give the cybersafety talk: Warn your tween or teen about ‘stranger-danger’ and say an emphatic ‘NO’ to online chatrooms.
  • Use security software with parental controls: This is a must, for all devices at home, including smartphones. Once installed, you will receive text messages if your child behaves inappropriately online. Here’s a link to my blog on installing parental controls.

Cutting teens off technology will be akin to isolating them in the digital world. They need their platforms to connect and express and if these are taken away, they will feel controlled and may become rebellious.  It may be considered as a restriction to their individuality & hence effectively creating a barrier between your parent-child relationship.

Instead, be rational and even-tempered. Commend your teen when he or she shows good judgment, but don’t go overboard with praise. Explain how excessive indulgence is unhealthy & encourage moderation.

Don’t ignore, or restrict, rather monitor your kid. Stay safe everyone!