ITA urges for parental control over internet usage
- Protecting children from cybercrimes begins with a friendly talk between parents and their children.
- Children usually respond to cyber blackmail and bullying because they don’t know how to behave in such situations or fear of scandal or punishment from their parents.
- Child's fear and lack of interaction with others are among the most prominent signs that the child is being blackmailed or bullied.
The Information Technology Authority (ITA), represented by the Oman CERT, recorded 35 cybercrimes against children under 18 years old, during the period from January 1 to June 30 2019. The cases include 27 cyber blackmail cases, 3 cases of fraud and 5 cases of revenge.
The Center urges parents to have parental control and educate their children on how to utilize the internet in general and to avoid the negative sides of it, especially with the summer vacation period and the increase in the demand for smartphones and electronic games in the absence of the parental supervision.
Dealing with the technology requires parents knowledge in order to raise awareness with their kids and advise them on the best way to use the technology, Aziza Sultan Al Rashdi, Director of Professional Cybersecurity Services at ITA, talked on the best ways to protect kids from cyber blackmail and bullying, “It begins with a friendly dialogue between parents and their children about the benefits and damages of information and communication technologies and the most important risks that can be experienced by children as well as adults alike. We also advise the parents to convince children that parental control is in their interest and that they should avoid using webcams or dating sites and not to share passwords with others or talk to strangers.”
Cyber blackmail is referred to as threatening or blackmailing a person with the images, clips or information that the victim does not want to publish or share to others. While cyber bullying is the use of the Internet and related techniques to harm or embarrass other people deliberately in a repetitive and hostile way. Al Rashid, added “Children usually respond to cyber blackmail and bullying because of their lack of knowledge on how to act in such situations or fear of scandal or punishment from their parents. Therefore, children get to hide the situation from their families and respond to threats to the extent that may lead them to suicide because of psychological stress and depression.”
The victims of cyber blackmail and bullying are advised on the following:
- Never respond to the demands of the blackmailers or bullies.
- Talk with adults who can be trusted like parents or siblings and never hide it.
- Do not be embarrassed or afraid to talk about what you are going through, no matter how embarrassing and bad because it is best to address the issue quickly before it develops further.
Aziza Al Rashdi advises the parents by saying: “Everyone makes mistakes, but children and young people are more likely to fall in such situations because of their curiosity and love to discover. Thus, we must embrace them and not attack them in the fear of people's talks or a scandal. Our actions may cause us the loss of our kids because of their fear of us."
She also advised kids and teenagers to be careful when using chat programs and ask for parents’ permission about the possibility of entering them. Some of the advises on using chat rooms include:
- Do not provide anyone you meet online with any contact or private information.
- You should leave the chat rooms immediately when someone says uncomfortable or confusing words and make sure to tell your parents about it.
- Avoid sending your photo or credit card information to any person, and always keep your secret numbers and never disclose them to anyone.
- You must stay away from all sites that are defined for over the age of 18, and this warning is stated to protect you.
- Do not open any attachment in the email, unless it is sent from someone you know.