A report by an international think tank says that 58 percent of Nepali children aged between eight and 12 are exposed to cyber risks.

The risk involves cyber bullying, video game addiction, online grooming and online sexual behaviors. The study found cyber bullying (49 percent) to be the most prevalent among Nepali children followed by online sexual behaviors (26 percent). These risks are significantly higher among children using mobile phones and social media platforms. Similarly, Nepal Police has also seen spike in cyber-related crimes in urban centers across the country. Our schools, public institutions and families have to step up efforts to educate Nepali children on digital skills and digital citizenship. It is time for the government to include issues of cyber safety in the curriculum. Only then we will be able to have wider dissemination of the need for awareness on this topic. Proper education on online platforms should start at home. Children should be taught the basics on using the internet and staying away from sites and activities that lead to bullying. And for this to happen, parents must also be aware and well informed.

Speedy growth and development of information and communication technology has brought the whole world to our hands. The number of mobile users has grown in Nepal significantly over the last few years. Almost every individual in the country has an access to internet in their mobile phones today, from the children studying in schools to the adults who go to the university. Of course this has enabled the current generation to have quick access to sources of learning but it has also brought a number of problems. If we fail to educate our children how to use internet, this will lead to the problems that will be difficult to solve. Schools should therefore educate children on cyber safety and provide available online tools so that they do not fall prey to online bullies. Besides, schools should hold discussions on the issue with their young students so they know what to do and not to do in the online world.

Young children now use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and many other applications. Many parents are not even aware of some of these platforms and so they are not well equipped to guide their children on cyber safety. Our children will increasingly rely on the internet for a number of activities, from completing assignment to killing time. Connecting with strangers via Facebook and other similar apps has become easy. This is where a lot of problem arises. It is now time for us to think of ways to make our children’s internet experience safe and worthy of their time. Let us begin discussing the issue at home and in schools at the earliest so that our children know what to do next time they log on to their social media accounts.

Source: Republica National Daily
February 11, 2018