Gadget ban won't solve parents' worries: Experts
Dubai - Cybersecurity experts noted that more children are gaining access to inappropriate content.
When it comes to protecting kids from online predators, awareness drives and dialogue should be prioritised over banning and snooping around digital gadgets, according to a number of cybersecurity experts and concerned parents.
"Awareness is very powerful because it changes social perceptions. Rather than creating panic over the use of technology or spreading misunderstanding, awareness allows a positive atmosphere to emerge," said Cecilia Pastorino, security researcher for IT security company Eset.
"Banning the use of technology can actually backfire (because kids) will only use their phones on the sly. Young people identify with technology and adapt it to fit into their daily lives. That's why it's important to show them how they can use technology for the common good, such as to share knowledge or to support one another," she added.
Pastorino also underlined that building rapport and exploring topics - like technological risks, safety on the Internet and appropriate online behaviour - are the strong foundations to keep kids safe in the digital world.
Cybersecurity experts noted that more children are gaining access to inappropriate content that distorts their normal perceptions.
Abdulla Ahli, information security analyst at the UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), told Khaleej Times that parents should vigilantly monitor what their children do, see, or search for online and across all devices, including phones and tablets.
He noted that online prowlers have also become creative in their 'treacherous game', but there are basic solutions to keep them at bay.
"Parental control will help protect children against online threats. When kids are downloading an app, parents should check if some settings are switched off like location, access to photos, contact details, etc," Ahli elaborated.
Egyptian expat Ahmed ElZarka, 31, and Jordanian national Ahmad Sulaiman, 40, are educating their own children about the importance of online safety. Both of them are members of Lenovo's Dad Squad, a group of fathers who are online gamers.
"Parents must talk to their children before they allow them to play these games and guide them about the dangers of talking to players online, in the same way we guide them not to talk to strangers on the streets," ElZarka told Khaleej Times.
"I am personally surprised when my children, who are six and seven, started telling me about how their friends are playing Fortnite. I've made sure that they understand why they are unable to play, due to the age rating of a game.
"It's the same principle as not giving a one-year-old a toy that is not suitable for those under three years of age," ElZarka stressed.
Sulaiman, for his part, reiterated: "Parents need to educate their kids that meeting people online is like meeting them in real life. Parents can restrict the chat settings and not allow their kids to accept any invitations."