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Dangers of the cyber world for Indian children

A Pune-based teacher and mother of two, Anindita Mishra was shocked when she came to know about the dangers of the cyber world. Being vocal about issues related to children’s welfare and development, Anindita, along with McAfee India’s Cybermum, conducted a survey on the dangers children face online, and also gave solutions to steer clear of them. As part of the campaign to educate parents, teachers and children on this topic, Anindita conducts information sessions in schools. While talking to DNA, she revealed the reasons for taking up the survey.

What made McAfee undertake this survey? 
The Internet has gradually evolved into a platform for self-expression and social interaction. We are not aware how children of various ages in urban India use the Internet and how they are exposed to various forms of threats online.
To bring these issues to light, McAfee, which is the world’s largest dedicated security technology company, decided to commission a survey to study the online behaviour of Indian children. McAfee commissioned the survey across 10 Indian cities, which included Pune, New Delhi, Mumbai, Ludhiana, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Cochin, featuring 500 kids and 496 parents.

On what basis were these 10 cities selected? 
These 10 cities for the survey were selected on the basis of Internet penetration.

What are the other areas that you work for? 
With technology evolving every day, there are newer forms of cyber threats that children face. The Cybermum initiative was launched in India after its success in the US and Australia. I connect with concerned parents through my blog, twitter and Facebook. I have also conducted few informative sessions for school kids in association with the Rotary Club.

What are the online crimes that can be committed by children?
Some of the possible cyber crimes committed by children could 
Cyber stalking: The stalker follows the victim’s activities on the net, by hacking the e-mail or social networking accounts; posting rude or obscene messages on the walls; entering chat-rooms frequented by the victim etc. The stalkers’ task is made easier by the fact that girls are usually not net-savvy.

Cyber bullying: Cyber-bullying follows children and young people into their private spaces and outside school hours - there is no safe haven for the child being bullied. Kids often become a victim of cyber bullying as they spend more time socialising online. Email, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, picture messaging and text messaging are used to intimidate, threaten, harass, embarrass or isolate someone.

Defamation: Defamation occurs when someone publishes defamatory matter about a person or sends e-mails containing defamatory information to his / her friends.

Hacking: Children take pleasure in exhibiting their knowledge and prowess on the computer. There is this rising trend among kids to learn how to hack passwords, for the fun of it. But suppose they are successful at it and are able to access someone’s personal details, there is no telling what the kids might do with the data in hand.

Source: DNABy Manasi Saraf Joshi , Image: 123rf

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