How do we protect our kids from evils of social media?

This is a timely initiative, especially with support from Imbuto and this is well appreciated!
The cover of the new book launched by Imbuto Foundation. File.
The cover of the new book launched by Imbuto Foundation. File.

Editor,

RE: “New book to ease parent-child interaction on reproductive health” (The New Times, March 20).

This is a timely initiative, especially with support from Imbuto and this is well appreciated!

I would wish to add an issue that I believe parents need to be vigilant about. This is the issue of children/teens access to internet, especially sexual related content that is now prevalent at the click of a button.

There are many questions that evoke heated debates, e.g. should parents avail phones and especially smartphones/tablets/laptops to their children and teens? There are some kids tablets in the market, and I believe they are okay as long as the parents are vigilant by ensuring only child friendly content are on it.

Of course control of use of the gadget is also necessary; gadgets should not parent children. Note that now there are smart dolls in the market although with keen civil society ensuring they are safely accessible by children.

Teens over 16 years can have access to smart gadgets, but in this case, let the parents make personal decisions as they see fit but with adequate information. Parents however need to teach children about responsible use of them and there are many sites on the net that teach parents on this.

Smart gadgets assist teens to do their homework, learn coding, music, art, supplement biology/chemistry/physics lessons with YouTube videos, online tutors etc. However, of most concern is the use of social media including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Snapchat, etc.

Most social media accounts have an over 18 years only registration policy, but it’s easy to cheat the registration process by declaring to be older than 18 years. This is a gray area that unfortunately social media apps are unable/unwilling to enforce.

The use of social media apps to sext/meet dubious online characters is another danger especially when it comes to adventurous and susceptible teens. There is also the issue of gaming and its addiction that teens/children can be exposed to. Ultimately it boils down to how a parent raises their children, but let’s face it – parenting styles are very different and tragically less than ideal in many cases.

For parents who don’t allow teens phones, one may need to think again. The next time your phone-free teen goes to spend the weekend at the cousins who has a phone, or interacts with friends with phones at school, at this day and age, it’s difficult to go the phone-free way.

There are many studies that prove pornography is a real addiction in both men and women similar to drugs addiction, and yet our teens are accessing this content, something their parents didn’t face during teens.

The effort toward child online safety issues is a multi-stakeholder campaign and I appreciate that Imbuto has been at the forefront of reproductive health with this book. However, ultimately, it comes down to parents and I would encourage all to read the book and educate ourselves on these issues.

Kigali Girl

 

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