Parenting 101: Raising Responsible Digital Citizens

Yes, yes I know. Being a parent, there are 101 things to be done every day. And you are probably thinking I am asking too much by suggesting you raise digitally aware kids. For this, it means you have to be a digital citizen who knows his/her way in the cyber world and can advise kids on correct behaviour, etiquette and security measures.

But just think for a second– Who else will do it, if not you, being the parent? And as your kids will be digital citizens, don’t you need to prepare them for safe digital lives?

The 10 things you must do to ensure your children are safe online:

  •  Learn Internet A, B, C to know your children are doing it right

Become a digital literate yourself and stay updated. It’s really easy to learn. Just learn the basics of operating a computer and signing up on social media. You will pick up more as you go ahead.

  •  Be their gaming partners and Facebook friends

The best way you can play an active role in their digital life is by being a part of it. Show interest in the games they play, sites they visit and their online friends. Make their digital life a part of your daily conversations so they can freely talk about anything they see or experience online. This will also help you to monitor them without raising their hackles

  •   Talk and share

Share your concerns. Talk about stranger-danger and malware. Let the children know that you are aware of the threats in the digital world and are talking from experience and knowledge. When you say ‘no’, offer logical explanations that they can’t refute easily

  •   Draw boundaries

Set rules and usage of Internet timings together. That way they get to use the internet at a time of their choice, while you can ensure it’s when a responsible adult is around. A win-win situation for both. Don’t forget to draw up penalties for breaking rules. It’s necessary to maintain discipline

  •   Be astute

Periodically review security and privacy settings: Children have short attention span and forget safety lessons. They often unknowingly give access to third-party apps and outsiders to their pages. Check for this and edit them. Tell your children what you did and why.

  •   Create their protective shields

Teach them simple tricks like how to get out of an awkward situation; how to handle online spats and how to reject friendship requests from strangers. Another must-teach is what to do if they are exposed to inappropriate content and to approach you if they feel threatened online

  •  Review their digital footprints

Drill into kids that “what goes online stays online”. Ensure that your child knows the long-term consequences of posting comments, status and pics. Tell them how pictures are morphed, words are used out-of-context to create wrong impressions and how posts can affect career & college prospects

  •  Brush, wash & sign-out at night

Teach kids digital hygiene along with personal hygiene. Just like they brush teeth and wash hands to keep out germs; they must use strong passwords, take regular backups, not download files from dubious sources, click on a link after verifying authenticity and keep the anti-virus running and Firewall ON to keep out malware. They must also sign out of all accounts every time.

  •   Insist on good manners everywhere

Even in the digital world. Discuss digital etiquette. Kids must behave fairly, wisely, kindly and responsibly. Stealing and cheating are wrong and punishable in the digital world as in the real world

  •  Well done and a pat on the back

Never take their good practices as granted and praise good initiatives. Show approval when they do the right things online.

The best digital hygiene you can ensure your kid is by installing advanced and comprehensive security software like McAfee Family Protection. You can create different login accounts for your each child, fix sites and timings and be informed if they connect with strangers or share inappropriate content. Learn more here.

And the mantra you need to give each child to stay safe online? – “STOP. THINK. CONNECT.”


Stop Cyberbullying – How to Stop Bullying Over Video Posts

In my last post, I shared the story of a teen who was bullied online-over a video of his imitating a Jedi warrior. It was done in a good spirit but someone posted the video online and it drew nasty comments from several people. The child was a victim of cyber bullying and it left its mark on him.

Let’s discuss what precautionary steps we can take to ensure that our children do not become victims of online bullying. There can be two aspects in regards to video posts:

  • Videos posted by others
  • Videos posted by self

Videos posted by others:

If someone posts a video of your child with malicious intent, or, for fun firstly, you should request the uploader to take it down. If he doesn’t comply, then flag and report it as abuse. Then block the user.

Google has wonderful tips on handling bullies on You-tube.

Here’s how you can block someone on YouTube

  1. Visit their Channel page, which should have a URL similar to
  2. On their “Feed” or “Featured” tab, click the ‘by name’ drop-down menu
  3. Click ‘Block User’
  4. If the person you’re trying to block is one of your contacts, select the checkbox next to their name and click the ‘Block’ button. However, If they’re not in your Contacts, you can add them as a contact by clicking the ‘Add New’ button.

Videos Posted By You:

If you plan to upload a cute video of your 4-year old singing in the bathroom or playing at being a model? Since you’ll be the owner of the video, you would have the right to set privacy and comment options. These security options should be used and you can teach your kids to do so too if they are in the habit of uploading their music videos.

Here’s what you can do to prevent online bullying:

  • Disable comments through Video Manager
  • If you prefer reviewing comments and videos before they’re posted, set the preferred options through the Video Manager
  • Learn how to use the channels Help & Safety tools and teach your child too.

Some common Cyber etiquette:

  • Don’t encourage  unknown users  by sharing or ‘liking’ their comments
  • Feeding a troll on Twitter doesn’t always help. It may lead to an ugly, emotionally-exhaustive spat
  • Don’t shoot photos/videos of people without their consent and upload the same
  • Don’t create false IDs to spread malice about people
  • Stay away from online spats. We need to keep the cyber world clean for everyone.

As always, educating your child before allowing him to surf alone helps. McAfee offers lots of resources. Use them to keep your child cyber aware and cyber safe.

Happy surfing!

You may want to check this site for further info:


Is Your SNS Addiction Getting Out of Hand? – All Names Aren’t Cool

The news that went viral on social networking sites last week made me smile and shake my head and say, “Oh dear, oh dear”, in a real Miss Marple fashion. The Internet community was agog with the news of a newborn being named Hashtag! Nothing extraordinary perhaps, given the penchant among modern parents for bestowing unique names, but it surely makes it evident that the Mother is a Twitter addict. Other Internet-induced names that kids have been christened with include “Facebook“and “Like“. I am waiting for names like “Subscribe”, “Follow”, and “You-Tube”.

Parents have the right to choose unique names for their kids, names that reflect their love and liking, and I don’t argue that. But parents also need to come out of their new-found ecstasy and give a good thought to the future consequences of having such names. The names must not become a burden that the kids would want to get rid off at the earliest.

As Cybermum, my concern is with two issues here.

The Mother: With the fast growing use of technology in every sphere of life and the rise in the use of smartphones among kids, it is but a given that there will evolve more online communities and children will join such platforms at even earlier ages than the current 13. So if the Mother herself is a self-declared Twitter or Facebook or G+ addict, can she really control her child on social networking platforms or say a Big “No” to the child? A parent’s behaviour gives the kids arsenal to defeat them in parent-child tussles. Take for example an imaginary kid named “Status”, who would one day surely tell her Mom, “Well! I am from Facebook, aren’t I, so I have every right to go back to my origin”, or the like.

How can a Mother caution her child against something she herself so obviously is addicted to?

The Child: It does well to revisit one’s childhood memories and recall how kids tease those with funny names. Just think of you and your friends in junior and middle school. Did you never tease someone? What was it about- was it for a funny name, behavioural problem, dressing sense?  Had you ever been teased? How did it feel to be mocked and bullied? Do you want to subject your child to the same humiliation?

Kids can be quite cruel at times in their words and actions and this can have a negative consequence on the bullied child. A weird name will be like an open invitation to taunt and tease and torture from Day 1. Your kid might be able to take it for a while, even retort back if strong in character, but what if it continues and the child feels lonely, bullied, embarrassed? What if the child loses self-confidence and goes into depression or becomes a rebel and hates you for being the cause of the torture?

Would you like your action to lead to bullying of your child?

So go ahead. Have a lovely time looking for a unique name for your child – Google, ask your friends, take your parents’ advice. But make it a name your child will be proud of, a name your child will rejoice in.

And while on the net, remember to play safe. Use good security software and teach your kids by example.

Are Your Children Tweeting? – Its Fun but It Also Pays To Play Safe on Twitter

OK, let’s face it- I like talking. Perhaps a little too much but never ‘garrulous’ (as some mean spirits would say!) But I also love listening to people talking about themselves, their experiences, their discoveries, and their realizations. But what I like most is a good debate/discussion on all topics under the sun. And where else will you have such a wonderful heterogeneous mix of friends to talk or argue with than on Twitter?

Twitter, which came into existence barely six years ago, has taken the Internet community by storm. Today the micro-blogging site has over 500 million active users, yours truly being one of those addicts who feels restless if a day goes by without tweeting! I love the fact that there’s so much to discover every day, to discuss, to share- no wonder Twitter generates over 340 million tweets daily!

You know the fun parts of Twitter?

  • Post length can’t exceed 140 characters (We are spared from the attacks of the verbose!)
  • You get to meet like-minded people whom you would have otherwise never known
  • You can offer links to your blogs and get wider audience this way for your business, activities
  • It is a more personal way to interact, form groups, keep in touch with friends
  • Journalists, businesses, politicians use it widely and you can get to connect with them as well
  • Twitter is behind many of the recent social uprisings

So as long as you use the site wisely and responsibly, it offers a window to the world. Now the thing to know is what additional facts should parents know before they allow their kids to go on Twitter:

  • Twitter’s policy clearly states that its services are ‘not directed to persons under 13’. However, the site does not take any serious steps to enforce this limit
  • Whatever is posted under public settings becomes accessible to all, including direct message (dm). Even people you don’t follow can read your public posts

The red flags:

  • Twitter messages are public; and you can’t take back your words, even if you delete them
  • Twitter collects data about you and shares it with third parties
  • If the company is ever sold, this information can be sold off as an asset
  • Advertisers can target users based on their history of their tweets
  • The number of trolls is on the rise and they can prove to be really troublesome
  • There is no need to seek pre-approval or permission to share any users’ posts. So what you might intend for some to read may go viral, with sometimes unpleasant consequences
  • Spammers are already at work. They  spam accounts to direct higher traffic to their websites
  • Young people are at a high risk of being influenced by “online groomers
  • Hashtagged comments may backfire as trolls or mischief makers may bend them to suit their ends
  • Kids take their beefs (virtual arguments and fights) to the real world, and then it gets ugly

The dangers themselves suggest the remedies and precautions. Kids should play it safe and befriend only a limited few. Moreover, they should make their profiles “by request only”, so that they can choose who they want to interact with. Also educate them on how to identify, avoid and block trolls and abusive people.

One very important thing to keep in mind is that people on Twitter air their personal views and often exaggerate. So kids should under no circumstances believe all that they read.

And remember to keep your security software installed and upgraded. Every time I check out suggested link and my McAfee Total Protection stops me with a bright “WHOA! Do you really want to go there?” message. I am thankful and feel so very secure. Try it, its liberating J

Happy Tweeting, Tweeps…cheep, cheep!!!