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Are your children safe on the internet? What should you do?

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family safety

family safetyOne of the issues that’s not brought up as often as it should, as Zimbabwe and similar countries are starting to get online at a more accelerated pace, is the issue of the protection of minors. We are all somehow consumed in the liberation of information that the internet brings and seem to want to ignore its obvious double-edged-sword nature.

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The internet, without any deliberate action to keep children safe, is literally a minefield. The Internet is powerful because of the deep level to which it can satisfy a curious and adventurous mind. But it’s also dangerous to minors for the very same reason.

I frequently observe parents that are oblivious to this fact and offer their children unrestricted access to the internet. Without the knowledge of the parents, kids have access to everything from pornography, extremely violent material, to the strangest cult material you can imagine. There’s also the issue of questionable characters they befriend on social networks like Facebook and some they chat to on IM networks like Google Talk, MXit and WhatsApp.

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It’s not it’s easy to monitor, let alone control the activity of minors on the internet. Not easy especially because kids usually know much more about the latest technologies that power the internet than parents do. Aren’t they the so-called digital natives? The parents, the digital migrants, are just learning, and like the proverbial old dogs, don’t have the curiosity and hunger to explore new stuff and know the internet for what it is.

It’s not easy but being aware helps. Being aware of what the internet is for starters. Then being aware of the tools available to keep the family safe.

Once in a while I bump into such helpful information. This week was one such good week. On Tuesday, on the Google homepage, instead of the usual product promotional links under the Google search field and buttons, Google put a link to its ‘Family Safety Center’ page. In the “Tips from parents at Google” section is a video I found quite informing. It’s by Vic Gundotra, the Senior Vice-President of Social Business at Google. Part of what he says in there, close to the end, is this:

It’s incredibly important for parents to stay involved. It’s a mistake to allow children to have unlimited, unmonitored access. Certainly, you wouldn’t leave your child alone in the middle of the city, and you should never do that on the internet.

Here’s the video:


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4 thoughts on “Are your children safe on the internet? What should you do?

  1. You forgot to mention Skype. it’s easy for someone to chat with a person they’ve never met on Skype, and the freaky thing is that it’s easy to upgrade the chat to voice or video, which makes it even easier for people to end up meeting.

  2. Some fools i know even put pictures of their 1 year old babies on Facebook form example, without the baby’s permission or input. why not wait until the baby is 18. What are you trying to prove publishing photos of your baby online. Many Zimbabweans take safety and security online for granted. What’s to stop someone hunting you down using FB info and then finding your child even at a pre-school you took photos of or anywhere and then telling your very innocent child “i am your uncle” and the kid getting kidnapped or even sexually abused. people should think ahead and stop being stupid with the lives of their kids. Anyone can even download the photo. people should not wake up when something has happened to them. If you wanna know about the dangers online, look what is happening in the US. they had internet before Zimbabwe. Now some people just tasted mobile internet and post everything on Facebook. do you want to wake up to online dangers when someone has kidnapped your kid, sexually abused it and then dismembered it? things like that did happe. Yet you see someone posting photos of his child, house, street name, cars, and everything else. stupid i tell you, very stupid. The idiot even goes on to add as friends , people he does not even know just for popularity.

  3. Come on Harrison ( if thats yo name)this is Zim, not obsessed, buxed up & nothing to do Americans. You kidnap my child hopping to get what? money? you wld spend more feeding the screaming kid than u wld get from me. Of course some people overdo facebook but at the same time some people are naturally photophobic & will not put a single pic thats personal except some meaningless nature pics. if u aint my fb friend u get zilch from me.

  4. this is Zim, not obsessed, buxed up & nothing to do Americans

    Right now you are reading of Zimbabwean websites that are hacked. So what more do you not expect?

    Many many children are stolen every year, and even in zimbabwe. some even used for ritual purposes. If someone is your hater, then what’s to stop him/her from doing something really evil to you.

    I am not going to argue this further, each man for himself and his own family.

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