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How to protect the child from Internet harassment

24 October 2011 / 21:10:17  GRReporter
2810 reads

Victoria Mindova

Long working hours and imperative absence from home is the main reason many parents to establish with delay that their children have become dependent on the computer or have been victims of Internet harassment. As we are taking care to give our child a basic knowledge of the surrounding world, so we must show the child the dangers on the Internet, which the new generation knows even before they learn to read. To protect our child on the Internet is the main objective of the new web site in Greece www.cyberkid.gov.gr, developed by the special unit combating e-crimes to the Ministry for Citizen Protection. It gives basic tips on how to prevent unpleasant situations related to surfing the web.

Even if your knowledge of the Internet is not sufficient, let the child show you alone what sites he or she enters and what friends he or she speaks to in chat rooms or other Internet communication programs, just as you would be interested what his or her friends in the real world are.

According to the department to combat cyber crimes to the Greek police, it is clear that 14.7% of the sample from the island of Kos were subjected to mental harassment through the Internet. Of this percentage, 15.2% were boys and 19.5% girls. The average age of the victims is between 14-17 years. Any act of intimidation, aggression, violence, terror or authoritarian behaviour through the use of digital communication devices, namely Internet and mobile phones, which is repeated at regular or irregular intervals, is defined as Internet harassment.

If you see that your child is showing untypical moods without any reason, this might be due to Internet harassment. The most common moods, which can detect the presence of this problem, are anger, resentment, unexplained sadness, shame, fear.

If the child has become a victim of any type of harassment through the Internet, parents can take a series of actions. Let the children know that they should always print the threatening messages and the source from which they came. If there is no possibility of printing, it is better to save them using the "Favorites" option. When threatening messages are from unknown sources, parents should contact the local police department for electronic crimes. If the "Internet friend" of the child is a known person or a classmate, the parents of that child and school authorities should be notified. If anxiousness, solicitude and fear appear in the victim's behaviour, it is important that the parents seek help from a psychologist, expert in these matters. It is also important not to stop the communication with the child. Be calm and do not lose patience.

It is important to explain that to communicate with strangers on the Internet is dangerous and he or she should not trust Internet friends, who he or she does not know personally. The child should be also explained never to arrange to meet a stranger and use the "block" (block, cancel) option if strangers insist to become friends online. You can always use the filters of computer  programs to restrict access to certain sites, but you should not count on it only. Help the child understand the possible dangers and allow him or her to develop a sense of self-defense.

The best way to make the child responsible if over the age of eight is making an agreement. It can be presented to the child in the form of a game. It should contain his or her rights (one hour per day free use of the computer, for example), but his or her responsibilities too (doing the homework). Thus, a sense of independence is imposed upon the child and he or she is developing own sense of responsibility. During adolescence, when there could be any responses, it should be explained at the beginning the right to impose rules, but also the consequences if they are not complied.

If you are absent from home many hours and you are not able to control how many hours the child spends on the computer and electronic games, the easiest way to understand that there is a problem is to recognize the symptoms. They are daytime sleepiness, he or she does not engage in normal activities as before, social alienation, defiance, irritability. The complete ban on the computer as a measure of punishment could have a delayed effect. If you find that your child is dependent on the computer, you should seek indirect ways to take the child away from the worst effects. Try to find alternative activities to attract his or her attention and keep him or her away from the Internet. Spend more time in your spare hours with him or her and listen.

Tags: SocietyMediaInternetChildrenHarassmentDependenceProtection
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