Children’s Day is just around the corner and more and more electronic gadgets appear at the top of the gift-order list. It’s a more technological generation glued to the screens, but there’s little care when leaving them using their cell phones and tablets alone.
This need to fiddle with electronic devices has a lot of influence on parents’ behavior. According to a study recently published by Kaspersky, 91% of Brazilians said they spend at least three hours a day using gadgets. And 86% confirmed that their children also spend the same amount of time online.
The difference is, obviously, an adult is more aware of what they can and cannot do online. A report released by the IWF (Internet Watch Foundation) reveals that, in the first six months of 2022, more than 19,700 selfies of children, aged between 7 and 10, with nudity or sexual content were published on the internet. This amount represented an increase of 360%, compared to the same period in 2020, which according to the institution, shows a “social and digital emergency”.
We’ve talked to experts and put together three tips to help you monitor your kids’ cell phone behavior.
Apps and websites to monitor activities
Manu Halfeld, project manager at Safernet, gave two tips on parental mediation tools:
- Google Family Link assists in managing children’s activities, maintaining an educational approach and stimulating curiosity.
- The SafeSearch tool, also from Google, helps to filter explicit and violent content from search engines.
If you have an iPhone, use the parental mediation tools available in Setup. Inside it, you’ll find how to restrict searches for explicit content and manage allowed applications. In this article, you can see a complete step-by-step guide.
If the child’s cell phone does not have native parental control mechanisms, you have the option to download. Before, however, it is important to inform yourself about the reputation of the company that offers the service. This way you will avoid downloading malware, which can steal children’s data (such as photos and videos) or even infiltrate viruses and security flaws for hacking or surveillance.
For Yasmin Curzi, researcher at the CTS (Center for Technology and Society) at Fundação Getúlio Vargas in Rio de Janeiro, controlling screen time is one of the best ways to protect your child. This mechanism can be activated on any type of device, whether Android or iOS.
Also, be careful with computers that are shared by the whole family. “It is recommended that a login be created, with parental control by default, so that the child can use it. This type of measure already brings changes to children’s access in browsers, stores and applications”, completes the researcher.
Browsing together with your child, setting an example of good practices and providing a critical view of the Internet also needs to be a regular habit. That way, you also get to know the online services that interest him or her and the contacts she talks to.
“It’s critical to pay attention to the content shared on social media and approaching strangers,” explains Yasmin. “In general, pedophiles approach seeking, first, the trust of victims, even posing as younger people.”
With the culture of exposure and frequent postings, another important precaution is to disable localization mechanisms.
For the experts heard, the solution is not prohibition, but dialogue. After all, even if the child does not have access to screens at home, it is still possible for them to use them with friends at school, in the neighborhood, at their cousins’ house…
Yasmin says that it is essential to create an environment in which children and adolescents feel safe to share what happens in their daily lives, without fear of excessive repression or judgments that can only push them away.
“It is imperative that parents explain the risks of having an intimate photo perpetually leaked on the internet, for example,” says Yasmin. “Tell stories and cases, clear your children’s doubts about such matters.”
The researcher reinforces that schools are also partners in this prevention. They can help identify unusual behaviors. “Communicating with the school space is also something parents need to consider in protecting their children,” she advises.
Manu points to yet another topic of conversation: the importance of asking for help in uncomfortable situations.
“Conversations about intimacy are important – sexuality is present in every individual’s development, with different characteristics at each stage of life. It is important to bring this subject up in different spheres of life, from childhood, without repression, but with clarification and guidance. “
She also explains that the sharing of images can be the result of an exploration or curiosity of the child or adolescent, who is not so aware of the risks or manipulation that they may have suffered. Therefore, dialogue is always a great way.