Browse Author: REKHA DHYANI

Save Precious from Vicious – Kids and Internet

We cannot lock our children out of the online space because of the dangers of the digital world. Internet is a necessity for everyone including children. By blocking them from using the internet we are restricting their access to a vast repository of meaningful information. We don’t stop sending them to school because of the various criminal incidents that are happening in many schools. Do we? Similarly, we cannot and should not ban them from accessing the internet. The important point here is as Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF representative in India, says,

Just as we help children understand the risks in the physical world, we need to guide and navigate them through the digital one.”

More than 175,000 children go online for the first time every day. It is estimated that about 134 million children have mobile phones in India alone. According to the IAMAI survey undertaken in 35 Indian cities 28 million internet users in India are school-going children. Surveys conducted by Telenor in 12 countries found that children in India are in the highest risk category. Online predators can reach further than you think.

Your child is online and experiences something that makes him/her uncomfortable or worried. Someone has bullied them and they don’t know what to do. Someone’s messages go from friendly to threatening. Internet has so many things to love about. But it is also being misused and abused every day and our children are paying a heavy price for it.

How can we make the internet a safer place for our children?

The first and foremost way is to educate ourselves about the various forms of online abuse. Learn how to take preventive measures and how to tackle if your child happens to be a victim of online abuse.

FORMS OF ONLINE ABUSE:

There are many forms on online abuse that happen, but I am discussing only the most common forms that deal with child online abuse here.

  1. Cyberbullying or Bullying Online- When one or more children use technology such as the Internet, mobile phones, or other gadgets to threaten, harass, or embarrass another child, it’s called Cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying goes beyond just bullying. It follows you home via text messages, web sites, and into your bedrooms.
  2. Online Sexual Abuse – Online sexual exploitation and abuse is when a person manipulates another person to get them to do something sexual. It’s an ongoing cycle of emotional and psychological abuse. It can include things such as forcing or blackmailing someone into to sending sexual pictures/videos of themselves online or to perform sexual acts over web camera. [Source: Kids Help Phone]
  3. Online Grooming – Child grooming is basically befriending and forming an emotional bond with a child by a person with the objective of sexual abuse. These ‘friendly molesters’ become acquainted with their targeted victim, gaining their trust while secretly grooming the child as a sexual partner. [Source: Firstpost]
  4. Cyber Extremism – Cyber extremism is resorting to violence using any online platform. Cyber terrorism in based upon cyber extremism. Terrorist groups are fighting an cyber war, with the use of slick videos, online messages of hate and even an app that all aim to radicalise and create a new generation of cyber jihadists. Even young kids aren’t spared.

PREVENTIVE MEASURES

Experts say that we must start discussing internet safety with children at an early age.

  • TOGETHER – Be the first one to help your child discover the world of Internet
  • WHAT & WHAT NOT – Encourage your child to be careful when disclosing personal information.
  • CONCEPT OF RIGHT & WRONG – The concept of Right and Wrong behaviour has to be kept in mind even during your online sojourns. If they won’t do it to someone face to face – they shouldn’t do it online.
  • TALK ABOUT RISKS – Talk to your child about the impending risks of meeting online “friends” in person. It might be a predator in disguise.
  • BEWARE OF STRANGERS WITH GIFTS – Just as you would warn them against strangers in the physical world, warn them against friendly strangers in the online world.
  • COUNSEL DON’T BAN – Do not be way too critical of your child’s exploration of the online world. Just be available without being intrusive.
  • PARENTAL CONTROLS – Apply parental controls wherever necessary and wherever possible.
  • LIMIT USAGE – Set a time limit for Internet usage just like you limit their screen time and other activities. This makes it easier to keep a check on their online activity.
  • QUALITY TIME – Do not just be there to give advice but also spend quality time with your children to make them understand that they can trust you and you’ll always be there to protect them.

SAFER PLATFORMS  FOR KIDS

KIDDLE – Google for kids – https://www.kiddle.co/ – Kiddle is a visual search engine for kids powered by Google, offering safe kids web, image, and video search. The “.co” extension stands for “children only” – Google’s focus and vision for Kiddle. The results are vetted by editors. Results satisfy family friendly requirements as sites with explicit or deceptive content are filtered off.

YOUTUBE KIDS  – YouTube Kids (https://kids.youtube.com/) was built from the ground up to be a fun, family-friendly place for kids and families. The YouTube Kids app includes both favourite children’s videos, shows as well as a variety of new content, delivered in a way that is easy to use for children of any age. It’s free, simple to use, and full of family-friendly videos.

VIDEOS ON KIDS ONLINE SAFETY

Here are a collection of videos that you can watch with your children on how to stay safe on the net. NetSafe Videos

You are a TEAM. Talk to your kids and let them know that you are ALWAYS there to help. Make sure they know you are there to help them be SAFE ONLINE.

EXISTING LAWS FOR CHILD PROTECTION

  1. POCSO – Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012
  2. Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibited) Act, 2013
  3. National Cyber Security Policy, 2013
  4. National Policy of ICT in Schools, 2012
  5. The National Policy of Children (NPC), 2013
  6. The Information Technology Act, 2000

Child Online Protection in India – UNICEF  – This PDF includes everything you need to know about online safety of children and how to react in case of an abuse and cybercrime investigation cells in India.

As someone who has been through a case of Online Identity Theft, I will repeat “Prevention is always better than Cure“. The existing laws have a lot of loopholes and it isn’t easy to book a predator, that too one who is hiding behind the anonymity offered by internet or is using a fake identity that can land an unsuspecting individual in trouble. Be the guardian of your child, ONLINE and OFFLINE.

RETHINK Before You Type

Trisha Prabhu is a 18-year-old innovator, social entrepreneur, global advocate and inventor of patented ReThink Technology – an effective way to detect and stop online hate. She is currently pursuing her undergraduate education at Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Trisha was just 13 when she heard of a 11-year-old girl who was repeatedly cyber-bullied by her classmates and ended up committing suicide. At the age of 15, she developed the app ‘ReThink’. It is an innovative technology that detects cyber-bullying, or hurtful and bullying words – on text messages, emails, social media posts and any app that uses a keyboard. It then gives a chance to the person writing them to rethink his or her actions. Over 93% of the time, adolescents changed their minds and decided not to post offensive or hurtful messages.

IMPORTANT RESOURCES:

Why is Storytelling Important to Children? In a Digital World.

Do you love stories? I do.

I have actually grown up on stories narrated by my parents, grandparents and aunt.

When none of them was available to share stories I used to read books and weekly/monthly children’s magazines on my own and embark upon fantasy journeys into the settings of the story. With the witty Birbal into Akbar’s courtroom. With Betaal on to the Banyan tree putting King Vikramaditya in ethical dilemma each and every time. With Chacha Chaudhary’s ‘computer se tej dimaag’ solving almost the entire world’s issues with the help of Sabu, the giant from Jupiter.

Stories are the single most powerful source of ideas, solutions, thoughts and emotions. Each story had important life lessons for us. They taught us how to differentiate the good from the bad, the importance of presence of mind, the value of relationships and the importance of virtues like kindness, compassion and righteousness. In fact, these stories had a great role in shaping us into the grown-up adults that we are.

Storytelling is an art. A necessary one. Which I believe is slowly vanishing in this era of nuclear families and working parents. With the increasing number of juvenile crimes and child abuse cases around, I believe storytelling needs to be re-introduced into our everyday life to help them learn and be wiser.

The ‘Happiness Curriculum’ was launched on Monday, 2nd July, 2018, by the Dalai Lama at an event attended by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia.

At the launch, the Dalai Lama said, “Modern education focusses on material values and has nothing to offer regarding inner peace. Only India has the ability to combine modern education with ancient knowledge which is necessary for fulfillment of human emotions.”

He added that India can become the modern Guru by reviving its ancient knowledge and combining it with modern education.

Kejriwal, meanwhile, said the launch of the course is the first step towards overhauling the entire curriculum. “The current education system focuses on making students mug lessons and write exams. I don’t think it focuses on making good human beings,” he said.

Source: Delhi’s happiness curriculum begins July 12, to include ‘gratitude wall’ and meditation

Here are the few benefits that I personally see in storytelling for our children.

  1. Helps connect with their roots and culture – Stories from epics like Mahabharatha, Ramayana, Bible or Quran, all have important lessons that help the child be aware of our rich culture, traditions and customs prevalent in the society. 
  1. Instills moral values in them – Stories with a powerful and meaningful message helps inculcate values like honesty, wisdom and courage in them from a very early age.
  1. Enhances their vocabulary – Reading stories to your children can help them learn new words and phrases and improves their language and its pronunciation. Children relate to the words better and thus they are retained in their memory for long.
  1. Encourages Creativity, Innovation and Problem-solving skills – Storytelling helps a child imagine the various characters, their mannerisms, the plot, the places etc. It makes them more creative, imaginative and open to ideas and free thinking.
  1. Best Memory Sharpening Tool and Mind Game – Asking questions after every storytelling session and discussing ideas about what different endings a particular story could have, makes the children use their imaginative mind, retain it for a longer time and also helps sharpen their memory.
  1. Increases Learning Ability – Storytelling is very interactive in nature. As a story progresses young kids ask questions, which is a great learning activity. It helps make children curious and encourages them to ask questions because it makes them think. Kids learn to associate images in the book with the story and this develops their imagination and visualization capacity. 
  1. Improves Listening Ability – In this age of competitiveness where everything is about speed one has a very limited attention span and lacks concentration. Stories helps children pause, focus and listen carefully. It helps them be more attentive and keen to learn and understand. When a habit of listening to stories is introduced in them, they learn to become better listeners. It provides them the necessary training to listen more instead of talking more and understand better.
  1. Physical presence and bonding – What do we remember of our childhood and the storytelling sessions by our elders? It’s the presence of that elder (parents or grandparents), the feeling of being cared for, of being looked after, being protected, the touch and feel and the question and answer sessions. The art of storytelling has suffered a hit after the introduction of online stories on Youtube and other compact devices to young children. The visual affect is appealing but it takes away the physical and emotional bonding time between the child and the other elders in the family.
  1. Encourages development of emotions and feelings – In this digital age of infinite number of television channels, internet and gadgets, the child loses the maturity and ability to feel. Storytelling is real, interactive and has a pace that makes it easier for them to feel the real emotions behind a certain behaviour of the character. The additional option of letting them stop and ask questions, helps them understand it better and be more and more imaginative. It helps them see the various endings a certain story can have. 
  1. Broadens Horizon – Stories from various cultures and countries help them understand the world better, accept and embrace people easily. Including stories from various cultures gives children a broader understanding of the world.

I also asked some parents on what they feel about storytelling and its introduction into the curriculum. I was amazed by how most of them remember and rejoice the childhood storytelling sessions with their elders.

Vineesh Kumar, a father of two, says his favourite memory is of the days when he along with his friends would sit in a circle and either their grandmothers or one of the children themselves told a story and the interactive sessions thereafter. He says that the current day Potter stories are no match compared to those little stories from Amar Chitra Katha that made them think and instilled values.

Chandrika Kumar, my mentor and a retired school principal, says that she learnt to love with all her heart and also turned out to be a rebel because of the stories she heard or read as a child. She loved reading to her children and they learned the value of caring and loving. She believes that storytelling must be introduced for the pre-primary and early primary stages in their school curriculum.

Tanuja Chandra, an IIT-IIM who chucked the software industry and chose to teach millions, says that the stories she heard from her parents and grandfather were the best part of her childhood memories. She believes that many of life’s values came to her through these stories. She loves reading stories to her daughter and believes that it helps her value people more. She says that it has helped introduce reading habit and helps her mind stay more focussed. “In times when a lot is going wrong around us, keeping children constructively occupied is very important”, she said.

“Stories that I heard from my elders made me more idealistic”, says Desert Fox (name changed), an Army Major, a father of two. He now shares concocted versions of stories that he believes have made his children more creative and imaginative.

Uma Govindan is an avid reader because of her love for stories. Her favourite being the Famous Five by Enid Blyton. She loved imagining herself as George. A mother of two who still enjoys reading to them, she says, “It gives an insight to them. Helps them understand that everything doesn’t happen the way they think and the way they wish. There are ups and downs, success and failures, and one doesn’t shy away from failures.”

“The stories I heard from my Valliamma during school vacations made me more spiritual and imaginative”, says  Nisha Menon, a mother of two. Her favourite stories were from the Arabian Nights for their genies, magic carpets and magicians. She loves sharing stories with her girls and believes that it helps them cultivate imaginative and divergent thinking.

Ritu Gupta, a working mother, says stories didn’t help shape her in many ways because there was hardly anyone who would tell or read stories to her. She learnt mostly from her own experiences and surroundings. But she loves reading stories to her daughter and believes that it makes children curious to know more and more about different aspects and perspectives.

With all this I believe our educators and policymakers do introduce storytelling as part of the school curriculum and help inculcate moral values and ethics in our children. As a parent and as a human being I believe we must focus more on passing on values than stressing on the score card and making them dangerously competitive and less humane.

Education, even at the school level is getting very competitive. Amidst all the tensions and rush for grades, the emotional state of the pupil is often forgotten. Delhi governments new move, therefore, is most welcome as they have introduced meditation, moral education, mental exercise and prayer into the curriculum to produce “sarvagun samapann” (including all qualities).

Manish Sisodia announced that the Happiness Curriculum will be taken up beginning from nursery to class 8 in all Delhi Government schools. The curriculum will be taught to eight lakh students from July onwards. The Happiness Curriculum is ready to be launched and will be taken up beginning the next academic session.

Source: Delhi Govt Takes New Initiative to Bring ‘Happiness’ in to Curriculum

The Delhi Government’s introduction of ‘Happiness Curriculum‘ in government schools is a welcome initiative. Looking forward to seeing how the Happiness Curriculum shapes. Also, I hope that private schools too wake up to the importance of the happy child. There is an urgent need to speak to the inner child in every child that feels neglected and suffocated with the academic pressure.

How to Tackle Your High Energy Toddler

Children have high energy driven by a great sense of curiosity. They are inquisitive by nature and are born explorers. Some are a little more intense, energetic and persistent than others. This can be really challenging at times. They keep you on your toes all the time. And most of the time it is just too dramatic and exhausting.

A high energy child may have problems in paying attention and sitting still in their seats. They can be impulsive and end up doing things without thinking about the results. They find it difficult to stick to a certain activity for long and tend to jump from one thing to another all the time.

When my little one used to run around running, jumping, bouncing, wiggling and screaming at the top of her voice while visiting our friends, I would feel totally embarrassed. I didn’t want my daughter to lose her energy and enthusiasm by persistently asking her to stop, stay quiet, sit still, don’t move etc. I didn’t want her to be a crazy nutcase as well. I knew she wasn’t doing all this deliberately. It was her free-flowing energy that had to be channelized in a proper direction, helping her to be her true self without completely draining myself.

DISCIPLINE YOUR TODDLER

Discipline is a necessary and critical part of parenting, but incessantly nagging her to stop this or that would have meant crushing her spirit and killing her curiosity over time. Each child is different. And each one needs a different strategy. But these tips had helped me to accept her spirited personality without becoming overwhelmed. The idea is to channel their energy and getting them to burn as much as possible in a positive and productive manner.

ASSIGN RESPONSIBILITIES

Give them little responsibilities and show them that you trust them with those. I used to make her water the plants, help me hang clothes to dry, fold the dry laundry, keep the kitchen utensils in their respective places, feeding the fishes etc. She felt excited about these and also proud of being an important part of the family.

COMPLIMENT AND REWARD

Keep your promises. Acknowledge their efforts and initiatives. Compliment them well. Reward them appropriately for tasks undertaken and successfully completed. Who doesn’t get motivated and inspired by a compliment or two!

LIMIT SCREEN TIME

Gadgets, mobile phones, television and video games. These help in nothing but making the child a couch potato. Their physical and mental development gets affected by too much screen time. Apart from these, it isn’t safe to expose them to the world of internet at such young ages. I often argue with parents when they leave their mobile phones with young children without any parental controls or guidance. It can be damaging to their overall personality development.

CREATIVE CORNER

I have observed that children with high energy are the most creative ones. Give them stuff that helps them design and create things by themselves. Colours, crayons, clay, sticker books, DIY kits etc. This helps boost their confidence, develop their motor skills and keeps them creative.

PLAY AND EXERCISE

Assign time for taking them out for a long walk or to the park, or jogging together. It helps burn their calories/energy along with their overall mental and physical development. Stick to a routine for outdoor activities.

OFFER OPTIONS

Give them the freedom to choose by offering choices. It makes them feel important and boosts their self-confidence. So even when all the options are provided by you, the child gets a sense of having taken independent decisions.

ROLE PLAYS

This was one of our favourite activities. Role plays from stories that we read together. It helped in memorising, focussing and learning better.

QUALITY TIME

Having decided to have a child, it is the responsibility of both the parents to find time to spend some quality time with the child. Hug them. Kiss them. Talk to them looking into their eyes. It makes them feel comfortable, loved and protected. It helps build their trust in you.

AMPLE REST

Because they work hard all the time running from this corner to that corner, or jumping from this table to that bed, they need enough rest too. Sleep is absolutely important for toddlers. Most of the growing toddlers do is while they are asleep. It directly impacts their mental and physical development. Children are able to make sense of their day, as well as lock in new skills and memories while they are asleep.

SET CLEAR LIMITS

When setting limits, take the time to look into their eyes and help them focus on your request. Make sure they repeat back to you what they understood to reduce disagreements.  Hyperactive children tend to be too sensitive. Yelling and shaming them will work adversely. Raising a high energy child can take a lot of energy and patience.

So, while I was told that my hyperactive daughter needed a special school for the kind of energy that she showed and the behavioral issues she had, today the girl is proud to be a scholar badge holder…three times in a row. Time flies. Hold them tight. Pamper them with love. One day, you will miss these times!


Bitnami