As I read the news today I saw a statement from a principal of a very reputed school with regards to usage of internet. As per the statement the internet should be banned in schools since it is the root cause of most of the problems and goof ups. Technology is growing massively over last few years and no matter how much I agree with the dangers lurking over our children through the clouds of internet, I cannot bring myself to vote for banning it.

I am sure tomorrow my child will benefit much more than knowing how to make a you tube video or create a quick webcast than to read about indigenous rocks. Yes like every parent I am scared by the blue whales and sharks and what not. Even the best of softwares in the world are prone to hacking and are not hundred percent safe. yet when I think about it I relate with in a very simple way. I remember my mom telling me not to use the phone too much in those old times. Back then phone was only replacing a telegram for them unlike today. Yet me and my friends managed to “use the phone our way”. In fact we managed to create a way for practically everything that was forbidden for us.

Such is the way of life. The younger generation will always find out a way for what they have to do until there is a logical explanation given to them. Even then some times they would go ahead and give in to temptation. Hence according to me and my psychology team it is imperative to guide them. No it is not a story of one fine day, they need to Repeat, Remind, Revise. 3Rs like I call them. Its about keep repeating and reminding the right thing so that it embeds in their subconscious.

I understand there is a flip side to internet but then what does not have a flip side. Internet safety is just the part of the game. There is sexual abuse, self body exploitation, drugs, diet, academics and so on and so forth. Hence saying that our lives are getting out of control because of mere gadgets is a very lame excuse that we would pass on to our coming generation. I would rather want my daughter to use internet and technology to make her life convenient while I also passon the thumb rule of self discipline to her that is needed in every sphere of life.

A recent Survey said that only 20 % of parents are pro banning internet. Surely I am not one of them. Another survey said that almost 43% of teachers feel that there schools should have an e-safety policy, an e-safety program that equips students to use technology to their benefit. Hence it is imperative to bring in Internet safety modules early in life and not when the damage is done. Just like I would teach my daughter to drive a car, make a chapatti, eat right, I want to teach her to be technologically responsible.

Rescript the STRANGER talk: Most of the times when a child encounters a stranger, so to say, he is nothing like what most children believe it to be. Most abusers or stalkers are charming. They lure and trick the children. Children have to be taught that person in uniform is not necessary the safest person. They need to develop their intuition. They have to be taught to spot any out of the way behaviour. They need to learn to keep their guards up in a very healthy way. Also if they are lost some where the family needs to have an action plan in place wherein a child know how to seek help intelligently.

How to Handle PREDATORS: Children need to be taught that its okay to be not polite all the time to all the people. No adult would need assistance from a child and hence it is perfectly fine to say NO, when they want to, for any help being asked by a suspicious character. they are free to walk away, run or scream. I give complete freedom to my daughter to treat adults in her life the way she wants. Ofcourse there is a thin line between disrespecting and beingassertive.

Respect your Child’s PRIVACY: There is no need to have your child’s name and phone number on practically every bit of equipment that she or he carries. They need to learn how to maintain privacy and not go overboard in unknown circumstances. They also need to learn how to tackle smartly if they are threatened by some one and not get into an unpleasant situation. Like I prepare my girl for stepping into teenage, I am preparing her for stepping into this big world equipped with practical knowledge and street smart intelligence. I want her to learn that we don’t engage into personal conversations with unknown people in real world. Same rule applies in the VIRTUAL world too.

FRANKLY discuss things with yourchildren: Act as Romans when in Rome. the generation today is evolved and there is no reason why we should shy away from talking to our own children about things that are of utmost importance in life. I talk to her about love, sex, heartbreaks, relationships and goof ups. What should be shared online, what shouldn’t is just part of our lifebook discussions. I have noticed that every time I have told her with enough logic and explained things backed up with facts and examples I have made a breakthrough further in her mind.

Explain them what is CYBER CRIME: They need to learn that accidents and goof ups also as much possible to anyone in Virtual world as much as they are possible in real world. Trust your child and respect her space. However keep a track of activities from the point of view of safety. Be a friend but don’t forget to be a parent.

My daughter has to make her way in 2020. I don’t want to pull her behind. I want to teach her to walk her best.

* Kavita is an author of Few Moments of Letting Go and Founder of INNER CODE – centre for Emotional and Spiritual Growth. We have workshops on Child Safety for various age groups @ 9971880693



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