Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Protecting the child in cyberspace?

The advent of the internet has been praised for providing desirable information, just by tapping your fingers, but last Sunday, the world celebrated the World Telecommunications and Information Science Day, under the theme, “Protecting children in Cyberspace”.

BTV broadcast the celebrations live from a small village in the north-east district, as an adversely developed village was also celebrating technology reaching them.

The ramifications of using the internet by children were clearly laid out, as it has been always. Child manipulation was discussed in length, child pornography was mentioned and a lot of other consequences were talked about in length.

It proved great to watch as people receiving a desirable innovation were also warned about how to protect children while using the internet, no one wants their child to be lured into any wrong doing or bad ideas while accessing a much needed service.

The idea is to receive but use safely.
But who ensures that the child is protected while surfing the internet? In my experience it has to be the parent. When something new is brought before any child, they have to be told at length about it, like what happened with the village of Kaudwane.

How many parents actually think about it, protecting his or her child? Not just anywhere and anyhow but on cyberspace. Wikipedia says cyberspace “is the global domain of electromagnetics as accessed and exploited through electronic technology and the modulation of electromagnetic energy to achieve a wide range of communication and control system capabilities”.

Why do most parents insist on posting their children’s photos on their profile pages on social websites? Some people use their children’s pictures as their profile pictures on either Facebook, Tagged, Hi5, Bebo, Myspace and even share their “embarrassing” videos on Youtube!

Most parents should know that one of the rules of parenting is to not embarrass your child; young boys do not want to be kissed, and mothers have firsthand experience of this. Children also are touchy, especially in their teen years. They hate it if you remind them of what they did when they were little, especially in front of their friends, your friends or even strangers.

Now, imagine your teenager learning years later that his mother pasted photos of him, wearing only nappies on Facebook, Bebo or Tagged for the world to see. A lot of children grow up resenting certain things their parents do “for them”. They don’t like that you transferred to another town/village for that job so that you can afford to pay for their school fees, invest a little for them, put them on medical aid and buy the KFC when they want it. Some even hate the name you gave them; they prefer to be called something else.

Some parents try in vain to explain why they took these “drastic” steps. And to their children they just remain cruel because you take a lot away from them by making all these other choices for them as a parent.

Mothers from a website where parents share parenting views and photos of their children, babycenter.com discussed whether it is safe to post your children’s photos on Facebook, one mother commented that, “As long as you click that friends only can view your photos, you’re safe.”

A lot of other user moms shared the same sentiments with her, they argued that they post their photos and only allow for their friends to view their albums or profile.

However, one mother argued that, “You have to be careful about posting your pictures anywhere… I don’t see why Facebook would be any different from any other site…”

The home page of the website showed pictures of some users holding their children and pictures of fragile and innocent looking newborns as profile pictures.

Facebook, which is now a widely-used networking site and is evidently used by many to post children’s pictures states its terms of use, “For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (“IP content”), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (“IP License”). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account (except to the extent your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it).”

A source revealed during an interview that people should be careful what they post on the internet because once it’s put up, it cannot be removed. She said that parents should be taught how to use the internet and understand better what they do on the internet.

Every adult is at liberty to join a social website of their choice, and they have that right to do whatever they do on that particular website. But posting photos of a child is just a little extreme, children too have a right.

Parents have made mistakes over time and making choices for their children has, in many instances, not gone right with the child.

The child should be protected, even from their mothers or fathers friends. The argument that these parents want to share the pictures with friends is vague, why not attach them on the mail and send as a private message?
Let the child choose when he or she is the right age whether they want to be seen by other people wearing only diapers or naked, without front teeth, chubby or wearing that ugly dress you bought her or that grotesque suit that looked awful on him.

At the end of the day, it is their choice.

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Read this week's paper

The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.