Conserving youngsters secure on-line


“I’ve stopped worrying about screen time during the lockdown,” says a mother of two. Keeping kids occupied at a time when everyone is indoors is tough and access to the Internet seems to form a big part of keeping children entertained and busy. Schools have also moved online, conducting classes through various video-conferencing apps. Amid all this looms the question of cyber security.

This is what Coimbatore-based cyber law advocate S Sathya Narayanan is going to address in his webinar, Cyber Security for children, conducted as part of Mango Education’s Open House sessions.

Mango Open House #124

  • What: Cyber Security For Kids by S Sathya Narayanan
  • When: April 29; from 6:45 to 8:30 pm
  • Where: Online Webinar
  • How: No fee. Register online at https://bit.ly/cybersecurkids
  • Call: 9952243541 for more details

The biggest problems in India, says Sathya Narayanan, are financial frauds and scams, OTP scams (pretending to be a bank manager and getting people to reveal CVV and OTP numbers), email phishing, blackmail and pornography on dating apps, bitcoin and investment frauds. When it comes to children, the problems are Child Sexually Active Material (CSAM), use of social networking sites and platforms like Tik Tok by underage children, and falling prey to digital addiction and games without digital well being controls. “There is no Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) when it comes to dealing with cyber crime,” he says. “Each state has its own manner of dealing with such incidents.”

Tips to keep them safe

  • Keep the computer in as open a space as possible and “maintain a digital detox box in which everyone puts their mobile phones before going to bed.”
  • He emphasises the need for sex education and talking about safe and unsafe chat, just like good touch and bad touch. Children should also be told why they should not share too much information or personal photos online. “Do not permit underage use of social media platforms.
  • Parents need to educate themselves about recent technology and also need to draw a line between privacy and being private.”
  • While accepting that there is no one-size-fits-all, Sathya Narayanan suggests that parents develop a healthy way of dealing with children’s presence online by taking into account their interests and encouraging them to share what they are surfing.

Addressing the concerns over safety of children while on video-conferencing apps, Sathya Narayanan says that most apps are pretty secure. “The only one that raised concerns was Zoom, because anyone who got hold of a link could enter the chat room. But they’ve addressed this issue by creating a password protectable link.” He points out that certain features — like recording a session without permission, secretly taking screenshots of attendees and sharing unnecessary information during a session — are also happening. Online classes have issues, he says, “teaches are wary of being fact-checked online, copyrighted materials may get shared, the management watching the session may cause pressure on the teacher….” But, he concludes, desperate times like COVID-19, require desperate measures.

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