Striking a digital balance among children this summer

Wednesday 24 July 2019
Dubai - MENA Herald:

With schools out for the summer, parents across the region are looking for ways to keep their children engaged and entertained, and the peak summer heat leaves limited options for outdoor activities. Parents can encourage their children to use this time spent indoors productively by learning new things on the Internet with the help of various educational websites and applications.  Experts agree that when used in moderation and under proper supervision, the use of the Internet can be valuable to a child’s development.

The first step that parents can take towards ensuring their child is making the most of the internet is to be involved. Parents can control the content their child consumes by installing parental control applications. This allows them to monitor the apps and games their child downloads and understand whether it benefits them or not. Games and apps are a fun way to learn, but parents can take it a step further by motivating their child to research, and read up more on the topics they learn at school.

Kids look up to their parents and tend to replicate their behaviour; hence, it is vital that parents set a good example to follow. When kids see that their parents use the internet to improve their knowledge and skills, they are likely to follow suit. Parents can also illustrate the importance of developing and having a routine. Observing their parents’ balance their time online and with family sets an ideal behaviour to pursue.  

The Internet, with all its benefits, can also be a dangerous place. This is especially true for unsupervised children, as they can easily fall prey to various online threats. One of the most commonly reported threats to children online is cyber-bullying, which can occur even within known peer groups. Online threats also extend to malicious software and viruses that children can inadvertently download or install, and exposure to inappropriate, explicit, or disturbing content.

Monitoring Children Online

To protect children, it is not just important that parents enforce restrictions on how much time they spend online, but they also need to monitor their usage. Depending on the child’s age, parents should also educate their children about the dangers that lurk online by warning them that the sites or apps they want to access are risky and may contain dangerous content. If the child is young and is not be able to judge the risks for themselves, parents can take a proactive approach and block access to certain apps and websites. Parents should also be vigilant for several warning signs that might indicate that their child might be in trouble:

  • Sudden changes in mood for no apparent reason
  • Changing the style of use of their digital device and social networks (for example, the child begins to wake up at night to go online, or only does so in private)
  • A sharp increase or decrease in the number of "friends" in their social network
  • The appearance of "friends" with a big age difference
  • The child suddenly deletes their page on social networks

With all this worry about the effect on children from spending time online, parents routinely search for indoor, engaging opportunities for children to interact with their peers in a safe environment. Maher Yamout, Senior Security Researcher at Kaspersky said, “Protecting the safety and well-being of children is a key priority at Kaspersky. It is because of this reason that all of our products come equipped with parental controls. We are dedicated towards providing parents with the best tools to keep their kids safe online and ensuring that the internet is a safe space for them to explore and learn. It is important for children to find the balance between spending time outdoors and online which helps make the summer a productive and enjoyable time.”

This summer, Kaspersky has teamed up with XDubai, an action sports company that encourages people, both kids and adults alike to get active and live a healthy lifestyle. XDubai is the company behind the XSkatepark—a 3,100 square metre skate park located on Kite Beach, which is designed for skaters by skaters. It has elements that cater to beginners and challenge professionals alike. With 29 different features, skaters can practise and make their way through various street-style elements.

Mohammed Javad, General Manager of XDubai said, “Unhealthy online lifestyles pose a lot of dangers to young children. We at XDubai are delighted to make this summer a fruitful and happy time for the young ones.  The best way for them to enjoy their summer holiday is to spend some of their time outside and be active. The way the XSkatepark is built ensures that they are in a fun yet safe environment and provides kids and teenagers the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors while being active at the same time. It encourages them to meet new people and allows them to spend more quality time with their friends.”

Related News