MASVINGO – Childline Zimbabwe has produced Child friendly online safety guidelines to promote internet safety for children.
The guidelines speak on understanding dangers online, guidelines for children’s safety online and the available reporting platforms.
Childline Zimbabwe spokesperson Buttler Nhepure told The Mirror that his organisation together with telecommunications regulator POTRAZ, came up with child online safety guidelines.
Below is an abridged version of the tips:
• Have someone, an adult that you can talk to about your online life
Children should always have a trusted adult that they are comfortable talking to about their online life, good or bad. Whilst adults should create an environment where they are not judgemental and reprimanding for children to feel free to discuss their concerns regarding their activities or interactions online.
• If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true
Online scammers and predators prey on children’s innocence, trusting nature and material needs. To get the attention of their victims, they make offers that sound so attractive and irresistible. When it sounds too good to be true, again reach out to a trusted adult for advice before you go too deep into commitments online.
Adults should find time to discuss the internet and its associated dangers with children. Adults should share knowledge on online scams and predators using experiences that others would have gone through.
• Set rules for internet use and follow them
It is important to set rules on internet use. This can range from how much time you should spend online; what type of personal information one can or cannot give out online; which internet platforms that can be visited among others. Adults should set standards or rules for children around their usage of the internet. It is important for children to know what is expected of them when online and the limits of what they can and cannot do.
Be wary of meeting online acquaintances in real life
While the internet is a great platform for meeting and making new friends, some of these supposedly new friends are not exactly what they pretend to be online.
Some use fake profiles, pretending to be much younger and loving when in fact they may be much older and sex predators or with other dark intentions.
As such, when online interactions are graduating to meeting face-to-face, it is advisable to first consult your trusted adult about this.
Adults should discuss the use of the internet with children and discourage them from carelessly meeting someone from the online platform in real life. Alert them to the dangers that may come with this such as abductions and kidnappings; sexual exploitation and abuse among other harmful things that can happen.
Limit disclosure of personal information online
It’s usually a bad idea to post personal information online such as actual names, phone numbers and addresses among others. If criminals gain access to this information, they can use it to harm you or your family. It is even worse to share photos and videos of yourselves, particularly private ones as these may further be shared with others you may not have intended to access them.
Adults should explain to children that their lifestyle and opinions are guaranteed to change as they grow older. With no “Take-Back” or “Delete” buttons on the internet, their personal details such as photos and videos posted while they were still children will remain online and can be used against them or can reflect badly on them when they are now adults.
If your online interactions become of a sexual nature, be very worried
Children should always be alert if someone, especially a stranger, wants to talk to you about sex. Remember that you can never be sure of the true identity or the intentions of that person. Approaching a child or a young person in a sexual way is always a serious cause for concern and you should tell your trusted adult, so that you or the trusted adult can report it.
Adults should talk to children about sex as they grow up, especially the dangers that come with certain sexual activity when they are still children. Let them know that the same real life dangers of sexual activity also manifest themselves online.
Take care of your privacy
Whether using a social networking site or any other online service, take care of your privacy and that of your family and friends. You might have the feeling of being anonymous online but collecting information from various sources can reveal too much private information about yourself or others you are close to, including your family.
Adults should take time to educate children about privacy setting online and emphasise the dangers of publicly sharing information online on themselves and people around them. Look around for privacy softwares and ensure that these are used to protect children online.
Treat others online the same way you would want to be treated as well
The people that you interact with online are human beings with feelings just like you so treat them with respect.
Respect other people’s views, even if you don’t agree with them, and disagree respectfully without being rude or ridiculing others.
Adults should raise children to be polite and respectful of people around them. Correct them when they are being disrespectful in real life because this may also manifest online, with undesirable consequences on others or on your children themselves.
You logged onto the website on your own, you can also log out
Under no circumstances should you feel that you cannot leave a conversation or interaction online. If you see something online that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or worried, you can leave the website.
Adults: Empower the children in your life to know that they have control over their activities online. Let them know that they can leave a platform anytime they want and can even report suspicious illegal activities that make them feel unsafe to authorities.
Call Childline Zimbabwe on Freephone 116 or message on WhatsApp at 0716 116 116 or 0732 116 116for advice or report any form of harassment, abuse, exploitation or any other inappropriate or upsetting conduct that has happened or is happening online. You can also email Childline Zimbabwe on their website http://www.childline.org.zw
Report child online sexual videos for takedown on http://report.iwf.org.uk/zw