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Cyber security agency asks parents to monitor child’s Internet activity amid spurt during lockdown

New Delhi: With school-going children increasingly using the internet for studies during lockdown imposed to control the spread of coronavirus, the national cyber security agency on Wednesday asked parents to monitor their online activity and guard against cyber bullying and inappropriate content streaming.

“The Internet is good resource for kids to prepare school reports, communicate with teachers and other kids and play interactive games. But online access also comes with risks like inappropriate content, cyber bullying and online predators,” the CERT-In said in an advisory.

Using applications and websites, it said, attackers may pose as a child or teen looking to make a new friend.

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“They may entice the child to exchange personal information, such as address and phone number, or encourage kids to call them.”

“Parents should be aware of what their kids see and hear on the Internet, who they meet, and what they share about themselves,” it said.

The Computer Emergency Response Team of India (CERT-In) is the federal agency to combat cyber attacks to guard the Indian cyber space.

With the country-wide lockdown in place to contain the spread of coronavirus, schools and teachers have begun offering online lecturers and class work to students even as many are using it for entertainment and extra-curricular activities as going out is not an option.

The cyber security agency also advised some healthy cyber practices that should be followed by children and parents in the cyber world.

For children it suggestions include thinking carefully before posting pictures or videos of yourself. Once you have put a picture of yourself online, most people can see it and may be able to download it, it is not just yours anymore, it said.

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It also suggested that one should never reveal personal information, such as address, phone number, or school name or location and use only a screen name and not share passwords other than with their parents.

Also, never respond to a threatening email, message, post, or text and always tell a parent or other trusted adult about any communication or conversation that was scary or hurtful, it said.

The best practices suggested by the agency for parents include setting a rule that the child should browse in the living room or in the presence of an adult and keeping devices in a common area, by locating all computers, TV and devices in a common area so that parents can ensure that the child does not view unsuitable content online.

Consider two-factor authentication for devices and lock the device home screens with a pin. As online communities are here to stay, so consider starting social network safety talks early, it said.

Spend time online together to teach your kids appropriate online behaviour. Going online with your child gives you the opportunity to see the apps or games your child plays, or the videos he watches, it said.

It also advised parents to filter content and avoid the chance of the child encountering inappropriate content by mistake and also adding parental control software to family devices.

Teach the kids that the internet provides anonymity and their online friends may not really be who they say they are and never agree to get together in person with anyone met online without parent approval and/or supervision, it suggested.

Take your child seriously if he or she reports an uncomfortable online exchange, the advisory said.

“Check your credit card and phone bills for unfamiliar account charges,” it said.

(With Agency Inputs)

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