Thursday, 13 June, 2024

Excessive exposure to Internet not good for children


Sampada Anuranjanee Khatiwada

Kathmandu, Jan:2  Internet is a medium that has contributed to turning the world into a global village by connecting every nooks and corners of the globe.
Even though the Internet bridges the cultural gap, ensures people’s access to information, allows wide opportunities of jobs and marketing, enables government and people to connect with each other, provides endless entertainment and so forth, it acts as a double-edged sword, if not used appropriately.
Internet also serves as a breeding ground for illegal and dangerous activities, if not used correctly. Children are vulnerable and more exposed to the risks.
A nation-wide survey on ‘Internet safety and risk of new technologies to children in Nepal’, commissioned by ECPAT Luxemburg revealed that families of 66.7 percent of government school going students and 33.3 per cent of private school going students have been victimised of online sexual violation.
Also, only 7.6 percent of parents said that their sons/ daughters had informed them about being enticed, allured, scolded, insulted, threatened, and exposed to pornographic contents and other exploitation as such on the Internet.
The report further revealed that only 53.9 per cent of teachers agreed that their students had been asked for their personal details and photos over the Internet.
The research disclosed that the mostly children are exposed to risks, where they are likely to become both offenders and victims of cybercrime.
“Internet today has become an inescapable part of human life which has made it easier for people to be informed about almost everything,” said Sujan Shrestha, an advocate. “Children, mostly have been the victim of crime on the Internet.”
To regulate this, various awareness programmes must be conducted in both government and private schools, training programmes must be provided to both the teachers and parents about how to regulate the activities that children are most likely to perform over the Internet.
The research showed that 32.3 per cent of Nepali students subscribe to the Internet to talk to their family members living abroad and 23.6 per cent of the students use the internet for their studies.
Abhushan Thapa, 14, studying at Triyog School, said, “I use the Internet for completing my school assignments and I am aware about the risks I am exposed to while I am online. My school and my parents have taught me how to be safe while using the Internet.”
Shrestha said that children must be trained about content filtering. Only 35 per cent of children are aware about content filtering.
Children must be made educated about potential online dangers and they should not be exposed to explicit and unfiltered contents that flow on the internet, said Shrestha.
Sulav Rijal, Programme Coordinator at National Model Science School, Gongabu, said, “We time and again provide training about Internet safety to our students and parents.”
Rijal said that the school had imposed a ban on the use of social Medias for children of secondary level to reduce cybercrimes and to make the students focused on their studies.
Parents have cooperated well with us on this matter, which is why it has been easier for us to regulate our students’ activities on the Internet, said Rijal.
The ECPAT Luxemburg survey also revealed that only 49.7 percent of boys and 50.3 per cent of girls were informed about howharming, damaging, abusing or insulting someone over the Internet was a criminal conduct.
Both Rijal and Shrestha said that awareness of children, teachers and parents was the key in reducing cybercrime where juveniles get involved.
The government, educators and parents should continue to work together to educate children and provide an environment in which they may use the Internet responsibly and safely, they said.