The novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) has rattled the very existence of humanity. The world is at a standstill in order to fight the disease. Many countries in response to the spread of COVID-19 introduced lockdown restrictions. The lockdown brought many challenges; schools closed, churches closed, social gatherings discouraged, markets closed, movement curtailed. The transition from normal life to lockdown was difficult; people had to adjust their lives for instance to incorporate virtual schooling, trading online, banking online and having conferences online among others.
Children for instance had to learn new ways of schooling via the internet. In addition, parents give access to their mobile phones and tablets to engage the children in order for them not to disturb their peace. This has invariably introduced a matter of concern for parents and guardians. Children long after online schooling is over, still spend long hours on the internet watching cartoons, music videos and other educational materials as a form of entertainment.
The big question is how children can keep safe while using the internet during learning and entertaining themselves during the pandemic period and beyond.
Here are some tips that parents, guardians and adults responsible for children can implement to keep them safe.
- Communicate the importance and dangers associated with the use of the internet to your children including chancing on inappropriate materials, advertisement that may promote unhealthy foods, gender stereotypes and exposed them to cyber bullying and paedophiles.
- Speak to them about the dangers of making friends on the internet and why they should not entertain strangers while using the internet.
- Activate parental controls; constantly checking what your children are watching online.
- Agree with your child/ children to establish rules on how, when and where devices can be used and which sites are safe to browse.
- Create opportunities for your child to have safe and positive online interactions with friends, family and you. Connecting with others is more important than ever at this moment and this can be an excellent opportunity for you to inspire kindness and empathy in your “virtual interactions”.
- Help your child recognise and avoid misinformation and age-inappropriate content that may increase anxiety about the COVID-19 virus. Many digital resources from credible organisations like UNICEF and the World Health Organization are available for you and your child to learn about the virus together.
- Spend time with your child to identify age appropriate apps, games and other online entertainment.
- Encourage and display good behaviour online and on video calls. Motivate your children to be kind and respectful to classmates, family members, to be mindful of what clothes they wear and to avoid joining video calls from a bedroom.
- Familiarise yourself with school policies and helplines to report cyberbullying or inappropriate online content.
UNICEF- For every Child. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/ghana/stories/keeping-your-children-safe-online-while-they-are-home-during-co vid-19-outbreak on Thursday, 7th May, 2020.
World Health Organisation. Rolling Updates on Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Updated 9 May 2020. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/events-as-they-happen on Tuesday, 12th May, 2020.
Source: Public Affairs Unit Desk