In this 21st century, the internet has become an indispensable part of our life. Just a click can pave way for millions of solutions to a problem. However, the internet particularly social networking sites have led to a steep rise in online sexual abuse. While some believe that offline sexual abuse is more exploitative, the reality is online sexual abuse is just as serious.
We have to recognise that it is difficult to keep track of all of the children’s online activities. Hence, we have to educate them to protect them from online exploitation. There is a need to adopt age-appropriate ways to talk about the sharing of information on the internet.
Till 5 years
We should not leave children unattended online. Introduction of the online risks is necessary at this stage, but care should be taken to not frighten them, as fear might trigger curiosity.
Appropriate explanations should be given about how it can be difficult to tell good people from bad people online. They need to know that not everyone is the person they claim to be. Also, they must know how fast the pictures can be spread online and that they must not post or send pictures of themselves if it does not feel ok. Outright bans should be avoided.
Developing good relationships with adolescents is necessary to know their internet-related activities. Even if it feels uncomfortable, such talks are necessary to remind them of their right to their bodies and the right to say no. It is necessary to assure the child that it is never too late to tell about possible abuse, even if they have done something they regret.