Parents can take steps to protect kids online

A RECENT survey highlighted that 76 per cent of Singaporean parents worry about their children's online safety, compared with about 70 per cent in 2010.

However, only 66 per cent are taking action to protect their children, compared with 74 per cent in 2010.

The survey reveals an inconvenient truth about modern-day parenting - parents worry about their children's digital lives but feel helpless to protect them.

We should not take inaction as a sign of negligence, but rather, further evidence that the digital world is evolving so quickly that we can hardly cope.

Previously, the first rule of cyber wellness parenting was to put the computer in a common area.

But the rule has become obsolete, with advances in mobile technology.

The situation becomes even more worrisome as we enter a new era of the Internet of Things, which refers to the application of smart technology to everyday life.

When even your watch and TV are digitally connected, parents will have less and less control over their children's increasingly digital lives.

In addition, cyber-dangers are increasing and becoming more complex. Every day, we read about online radicalisation, online shaming and other dangers we did not even think about.

But parents should not be intimidated.

It may not be possible to monitor their children's digital lives 24/7, but parents can empower their children to have a strong values system and to distinguish right from wrong and good from bad.

They can use tools and online programmes, such as iZ Hero, developed to provide fun ways to encourage children to safely use digital media.

Parents need not worry now, as there are things they can do to protect their children online.

Park Yuhyun (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2015, with the headline 'Parents can take steps to protect kids online'. Print Edition | Subscribe