Teens’ locker room sans any books; instead full on nudes, trash talk and sexual innuendos have rung the alarming bells yet again. First the shocker from an elite Mumbai school in December last year over Whatsapp chat, and now #BoisLockerRoom expose... adolescents and social media are sure not that comfortable a connection. While there is a huge hue and cry over the last few days over the sordid state of affairs, one wonders whether there is a way to deal with these new-age issues!
Adult supervision is need of the hour
With Kanye West and Kim Kardashian as role models, teens today are browsing the internet without any adult supervision. Better than technology, its parental control that can be more effective. While no internet connection before 18 could be step one, parents need to bond with their wards to ensure responsible social media behaviour. Set boundaries, establish bonds and monitor social media use to ensure your ward’s safety in the cyber world. — Punita Singh, counsellor
While most social media platforms - Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter - require users to be at least 13 years old, without any verification process it’s rather easy to bypass rules. A mother to two teens, aged 14 and 16, HR professional Shuchi Gupta tries to be in sync with all platforms, “Any app is as good or bad... one can raise funds for the needy in these trying times or plot the rape of underage classmates,” says Shuchi. Lockdown has only complicated the problem, “With classes online, kids must get dedicated internet gadgets and with them being smarter than us, one is really worried.”
Checks & balances
Neeru isn’t as anxious, “My elder one is now 18 and so far still rushes back to me to speak of anything that excites or scares him. The younger one is still rather getting a grip over life.” While her elder son has a smartphone, the younger one still uses hers, “Kids still use my laptop and I often enough go through their browsing list.”
Japnoor Garcha, a young psychologist with specialisation in child, clinical and counselling psychology, draws attention to abundant research showing that the psychological impact of unregulated social media is grave, “Not many parents are aware as to what all the kids have access to or who they are in touch with. There’s a lot of peer pressure and just to be acceptable among others, teens try to be parts of groups. They try to conform to the group rules, even if they go against basic tenets of privacy and respect.” Japnoor suggests schools should have mandatory counsellors and psychologists on board, “That way instead of giving in to peer pressure, students will be aware that they have someone to turn to.”
Technology to the rescue
“What they say in corporate security - you are already compromised,” says Joseph Jude, Chief Technology Officer, Net Solutions, IT Park, Chandigarh. “Kids are smart and break every mechanism you create,” says this dad to two kids, aged 10 and eight. Apart from building a bond with kids, he enlists the help of technology. “I use the parental control feature of the devices with thumb-based unlocking rather than password-based unlocking,” says Joseph. He has not gone to the next level of tracking since his kids are not yet into their teens. “When they hit teenage, I will introduce parental control of the router so that certain keywords and sites are blocked. Plus I will install a home-based proxy server so as to alert any traffic to unwanted sites.” Technology can handle only so much, he says, “It doesn’t solve all problems; you need to develop a relation with your kids in a manner that they are open to talking to you about everything.”
(With inputs by Sheetal)
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