Editorial comment | Vigilant parenting in digital age

The revelation that a non-governmental organisation is calling on parents to be vigilant with the content their children upload online should attract attention. Picture: SUPPLIED

The revelation that a non-governmental organisation is calling on parents to be vigilant with the content their children upload online should attract attention.

In fact it is the way to go. There must be vigilance on the part of parents and guardians.

The call by the NGO comes in the wake of a surge in “revenge porn” complaints where images of nude young girls were being shared on websites.

Justice Pacific, an NGO promoting human rights and justice, voiced concerns on the increasing number of incidents where young girls were falling victim to “revenge porn” with their nude pictures being shared online.

Several victims of revenge porn and community members, according to the NGO, had contacted their teams over the past few days to express dismay about a “discord” server being used to share and circulate pictures of nude Fijian girls.

Discord is a communications application used around the world where users can set up channels and share content, including pictures and videos, and chat with each other.

Justice Pacific CEO Elaine Chandra said the digital age had made it easier for people to exploit young girls, and unfortunately, revenge porn had been increasing over the years.

She said, with the easy accessibility of smartphones and social media platforms like Snapchat, young girls were more vulnerable than ever before.

She said it was now critically important for parents to be involved in their children’s lives and that they were aware of the apps and websites their children were using.

Social media platforms like Snapchat, she highlighted, where messages disappear after a few seconds, were often used to exchange nudes but unbeknownst to the sender, a second phone could easily be used to capture the images.

This is why parents, she said, should educate themselves about these apps and understand the risks associated with their use.

We agree with her that it is the responsibility of the community and every parent and guardian to unite and fight the growing issue.

Now that we aware of this challenge, let’s be aware of trends among our young. Let’s understand and appreciate the fact that social media is a platform that has changed the way our young live their lives.

Our young are no longer playing cowboys and Indians, or cops and robbers, and they are not even aware of or playing ‘pani’, or visiting their local library and many aren’t making time to engage in competitive sports at all.

For our teens, it is the norm to engage in social media, and discuss issues via an App.

In fact many teens and young children now get mobile phones as gifts on their birthdays, or on special occasions. For many of our young, because they now have mobile phones, and data, they are able to easily excess information on the Internet, browse the net and engage in social media, and most times, without anyone knowing.

Some parents and guardians find it easier to just let their young charges use a phone to keep them occupied, then to engage in discussions with them. We have been warned.

The onus is on us as parents and guardians to be vigilant, understand and be aware of what our children are doing on the internet, and be a part of their lives, nurturing them, guiding them and leading them.

We have a duty to protect our children from danger, from cyber bullying and threats on social media. That starts by us talking to them and leading by example!

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