Tuesday, 5 February 2019

A Safety Net for the Internet


Once upon a time not so long ago, a web was what a spider wove, browsing meant leafing through a book and the mouse ran up the clock.

And abracadabra! With the wave of a magician’s wand, the internet was conjured up and everything was just a click away! The world was our oyster and we would live happily ever after.

Was this ‘The end’ of the fairy tale or a beginning? Was this a fairy tale at all?

Red Riding Hood could well tell us how the wolf is now a cyber stalker, a predator pretending to be a child on Instagram. Or Snapchat.

The internet has empowered people and nations and knitted the world together like nothing before. The same Internet is equally and powerfully capable of  ripping the world apart. Policy makers, tech giants and other stakeholders are now desperately seeking for a safety net or a safety switch to contain this mighty genie unleashed on us.

Which is why on the second day of the second week of the second month of the year, we observe Safer Internet Day with emphasis on safety for children and youngsters.

 Our focus must be on educating children and supporting parents in ensuring that their children grow up using technology in a safe way and in a smart way

Who should protect youngsters from online exploitation? Who should guide them towards smart use of the internet? Parents, schools, counsellors, online media companies, governments? Or all of them?

There is no magic switch or solution for what is a complex matter, made all the more  complex by the changing nature of technology and the internet, and for many parents this can be one of the biggest concerns – how to keep abreast of newer features and newer perils.

But the aim of all concerned has to be to empower children to enjoy all the positivity of the digital world, safely. One must remember that Red Riding Hood reached out to the friendly and proactive woodcutter for help. We need to people the child’s world with suitable woodcutters positioned at appropriate points.

By: Basudha Banerji        

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