Parents warned to protect kids from online dangers

When Mr. Omolaja Adebukola and his wife made the decision to purchase an Internet-enabled smartphone for their 14-year-old daughter, Bimbo, it was primarily to facilitate seamless family communication. Bimbo’s mother also saw it as a tool to keep tabs on her daughter’s activities and aid in school assignments requiring online research.

However, the teenager and her like-minded classmates took advantage of the smartphone by downloading a disguised “calculator” app to access explicit content from the internet. This secret activity continued until a vigilant neighbor exposed Bimbo during one of her viewing sessions.

Fearing her father’s wrath, Bimbo reluctantly revealed her stash of inappropriate content hidden behind a password-protected calculator app. Shocked by this revelation, her mother promptly deleted all the content and confiscated the phone.

The Adebukolas never intended to expose their daughter to such a digital landscape, but that’s precisely what happened. Sadly, similar stories abound. Mrs. Angela E.D., a mother of three teenagers, faced a similar situation when her 15-year-old daughter fell prey to online perverts. Angela, an internet-savvy businesswoman, initially believed in the educational benefits of technology. Still, she soon discovered her daughter’s excessive screen time, interactions with strangers, and exposure to explicit content.

To address these issues, Angela sought therapy for her daughter and restricted her digital access. She considers herself fortunate to have intervened before things spiraled out of control.

These cases reflect a growing concern: the increasing vulnerability of young people to cybercrimes, from online identity theft to cyberbullying and exposure to explicit content. Many parents lack awareness of these online risks and their children’s digital activities.

The global population has reached 8 billion, with around 6.3 billion people having an online presence, including a significant number of children. During the COVID-19 pandemic, over a billion children attended online classes, cementing their presence in cyberspace.

While the internet offers numerous benefits, children often struggle to distinguish between helpful and harmful content. Many parents and educators lack the skills to guide children effectively in the digital realm.

Research highlights that children heavily rely on digital technologies for learning and social connectivity. They use mobile phones and social media extensively but may not fully comprehend online risks. As a result, they can fall prey to various online dangers, including explicit content, cyberbullying, and identity issues.

Addressing these challenges requires parental involvement, education, communication, and the use of monitoring tools. Parents must prioritize online safety and cybersecurity in their children’s education. Online safety measures must be implemented by technology providers and social networks. Additionally, governments should enact and enforce child online protection regulations and invest in awareness campaigns and support for stakeholders.

Helping children exposed to inappropriate online content requires open communication, setting clear rules about screen time, and encouraging healthy alternatives. Seeking professional help and staying involved in a child’s online activities are essential steps in this process.

In conclusion, while technology offers educational benefits, preserving children’s innocence and protecting them from online dangers must remain paramount.”

Edited By Damilola Adeleke

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