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“Parents need to educate their kids on the dangers of the Internet”

Debjani Gupta, Head of Marketing (India and SAARC) and Lead Communications – APJ, RSA, says one of her biggest fears is that parents take their child’s cyber security for granted. By Satyaki Sarkar

For almost 10 years Debjani Gupta has been at the centre of marketing activities at RSA, now a Dell Enterprise company. She drives the marketing strategy for RSA, the security division of Dell EMC to increase sales and improve the brand’s equity in the market. Debjani is also responsible for the company’s communication strategy for APJ and drives the cyber safety program for kids in APJ—a cause that is close to her heart. With over 19 years in the industry, Debjani is in a unique position to see the challenges and benefits of the digital age for everyday users. And her biggest fear is that adults do not see the danger looming when it comes to protecting their children’s digital lives.

The bad and the ugly
“I don’t think people are aware of the burning issue of cyber security for kids, but they really should be,” says Debjani. “The Internet offers an astounding variety of options for kids. They can learn, play games, interact with each other, express themselves, and even make connections outside their geographical boundaries. However, there is also a very dark side to the Internet, and few people realise its impact. From cyber bullying to the presence of predators, the Internet can be a very dangerous world for kids.

“Reports of murder, rape, and suicides linked to online activities and the Internet flood the news channels and newspapers nowadays, while identity theft, data loss, the leak of personal information, and similar scams is also on the rise; and I’m just talking about adults here! When it comes to kids, they are all the more vulnerable as they barely have an idea of the many dangers nor do they have any idea how to protect themselves.”

Parents’ responsibility
“As such it’s the responsibility of every parent to teach his or her kid to navigate the Internet safely, and that of security professionals to make that job easier. However, the idea isn’t to restrict their use of the Internet, as it is now not only an intrinsic part of our lives, but it is also a source of education. So we, as parents, should be sitting down with our kids and explaining the dangers and threats they face. We should also show them how to use the Internet safely and without fear. This way they can defend themselves and stay safe.”

Need for education
“For parents who aren’t tech savvy, there are a number of ways to learn about the Internet. There are several guides available online on how to teach kids best usage practices. These help parents educate and mentor their kids rather than restrict their freedom. Additionally, there are a number of ways to set guidelines and block websites that your kids should not be viewing. It’s similar to the adult lock on certain TV channels.

“Simple things go a long way towards ensuring your child’s safety. So read up on safety tips like teaching your kids to cover up the camera on their laptops when not in use. Hackers and cyber criminals hijack the camera to spy on users, gain access to personal data, etc.”

A mirror of the real world
“The Internet is a lot like a digital version of the real world, except much more dangerous. The option of anonymity is the real threat here. It could let a 50-year-old man with nefarious intentions pose as a little girl on social media and befriend your kid. So it becomes important that children know how to navigate their way through the crowd and not interact with people they do not know, just like in the real world.

“Also, the people behind cyber bullying and harassment are almost always known to the person. So parents should be as involved in their kids’ life at school as their online life. Children should also have an open relationship with their parents, so that they feel safe and able to confide.”

It’s not all bad
“Parents need to realise blocking/restricting Internet use and social media is not the solution. Social media is a powerhouse of information and a great source of knowledge. You can talk to friends overseas, learn about their country, their culture and traditions, see the amazing landscapes there, and be a part of their lives, simply by using these mediums. Something like this was inconceivable during our childhood. So, just like everything else, the Internet also has its good and bad points. And it is up to you to teach your kid how to use it responsibly.” 

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