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Parenting in the Digital Age

Nov 11, 2020

According to Kaspersky research, 43% of parents are oblivious to what information their children share online.

Radio Islam’s Moulana Suleiman Ravat, spoke to Enterprise cyber security advisor at Kaspersky in Africa, Lehan Van Den Heever and Zaid Ismail, a maverick life coach, critically acclaimed author, and mental health activist about some of the dangers children face online and how parents can deal with it.

Research has shown that children tend to overshare online. Particularly when it comes to personal information such as their legal names, ID numbers, home address, inappropriate photos or videos etc. which could present a range of dangers for the child and the entire family. Van Den Heever emphasises the importance of open dialogue with your kids and ensuring that they know exactly what the difference is between private and public information. In order to make adequate judgements about what they share.

With the many ways of circumventing parental control, this approach alone will not suffice in monitoring, or at the very least being in the know of what your child shares online. Mental health activist Zaid Ismail believes the key lies in understanding your child’s emotional state of mind when going online as opposed to relying on parental control alone.

A recent study has shown that 41% of parents have come across something their kids posted online that made them uncomfortable, personal messaging is a huge part of this as it reveals so much about a child that parents were clueless about. This is where dialogue comes into play, parents who have that relationship with their children have room to respectfully ask questions without offending them or kids may even initiate conversation in a safe space.

According to Van Den Heever a hard-disciplinarian approach, through preventing kids from socializing online will only cause them to rebel and hide things from parents which closes the channels of communication.

In an environment where youth are so easily influenced, parents struggle to maintain their own level of influence over their kids. Ismail says that before you give your child access to a mobile device and internet, ask yourself why. The fact that everyone else has it is not a good enough reason, and parents need to assess the emotional maturity of the child before exposing them to social media. Ismail notes that being emotionally accessible to your kids and engaging with them is extremely important.

Ismail says that kids who post inappropriate content online question their self-worth and seek recognition from other online users to boost that low self-esteem. Parental intervention can play a big role in helping to boost your child’s confidence and self-esteem, if done the right way, the need to post inappropriate content will slowly fall away.

Fundamentally, as a parent you need to be social media savvy, it puts you on a level ground with your child and lets them know you understand their world. More over, building a bond with your child, having open communication and a clear understanding of right and wrong provides the backdrop from which your child navigates life, both on and offline.

Being involved in your child’s life, knowing what happens on a day to day basis and allowing a safe space for dialogue will go a long way in ensuring your child’s safety as your child goes out there equipped with the knowledge to identify when something is not kosher and enjoys the comfort of being able to talk to you about it.

By Naadiya Adams

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