TOPICS: Monitoring the digital children

Baba, please give me your mobile phone.” It is what my five-year-old child generally says to me when I return home from office.

Although I don’t readily provide him the gadget, I can’t fully avoid his recreation on it - sometime games, sometimes cartoons and sometime films.

Connecting internet by clicking on Wifi icon and watching cartoon online is very normal for him. You know how the internet has been essential to a family - irrespective of age groups.

Although I sometimes monitor what he is watching, I’m not always with him during his play on the gadget. But, gradually, I’m feeling that I need to cut short the time my ward spends on the smart phone, and you too may be thinking of it.

How can we cut short the wards’ time on gadgets, and on online?

Whether it is a mobile set, pad, laptop or television, we - most of the Nepalis - do not have separate gizmos for children, adults and the old ones.

It means it is the same mobile set father uses during office used by his children at home for games. It is in a way checking the children’s time on gadget. When I find my child engaged on seeing rowdy fighting or scary scenes, I urge him not to repeat it.

Generally, I encourage him to watch Discovery and Animal Planet online. It’s applicable as my offspring is still young.

However, in case of the children of teen age and above, monitoring of their activities both online and offline is essential. The teenage is not only tender but also curious and innovative.

These very traits sometimes lead the children to the vicious effects of cyber for lack of constant monitoring.

At a time when the internet has been an essential platform of knowledge generation for the school children, complete restriction of internet access to them is imaginable; while the full access without filtering is equally hazardous.

It is therefore not only the responsibility of particular guardians but also of other stakeholders as school, library and college maintain digital hygiene.

For this, filtering contents with the adjustment of various options on the internet browser or installing new software to block malicious items and links - adult contents, terrible games, lethal viruses, hatred mongering pages etc.

Most importantly, in view of the growing use of the internet (internet penetration has reached nearly half the population), Nepal is in dire need of a policy on child safety online and offline for which the State and its line agencies including the Information Ministry and the Nepal Telecom are the most responsible.

It’s high time they mulled it.