TikTok ban in India: Here’s how to monitor your child’s online activity to ensure safetyhttps://indianexpress.com/article/parenting/family/tiktok-video-app-child-safety-cyber-bullying-5664906/

TikTok ban in India: Here’s how to monitor your child’s online activity to ensure safety

TikTok may seem a form of innocuous entertainment. Sometimes, even parents make short video clips featuring their kids. We asked experts to tell us how to exercise online safety, particularly when it comes to kids using the platform.

tiktok child safety cyber bullying
Monitor your child’s activities on TikTok. (Source: File photo)

The Madras High Court recently asked the Centre to ban the download of the Tik Tok app since it reportedly entails the risk of child abuse, child pornography and suicides. Recently, Apple and Google also removed it from their app stores in India. The Chinese video app claims to have over 120 million users in India so far. On the face of it, the video content on the app, also used by celebrities, may only seem to be a form of innocuous entertainment. And so, one commonly sees children using it. Sometimes, even parents make short clips featuring not just older children but infants too. But is it safe for children to be on TikTok and other online platforms? Before we hit the panic button, here’s what experts have to say.

tiktok, child safety, cyber security bullying
Parents should be careful about the content they share online about their children. (Source: Getty Images)

Children are not only spending more and more time online, but doing so without any understanding of online etiquette. The addiction begins with users competing over getting the maximum followers on their profile. “On apps like TikTok, users tend to compete over securing the maximum number of likes and followers and indulge in posting certain videos and other activities. And so, children using the app are likely to spend long hours on it rather than utilising the time to study or play,” cyber crime consultant and information security professional Mukesh Chaudhary told Express Parenting.

Threat to privacy

With inadequate knowledge about cyber security, kids and parents end up sharing real information regarding their location and identity on the internet. “When a video or picture is circulated over the internet, it is tough to delete it permanently. And the video or picture can then be edited, morphed or shared on porn websites as well,” Chaudhary explained. He added, “There are also fears of one’s mobile phone can be compromised, with access to the mic and gallery.”

Cyberbullying

Lack of regulation on internet activity has only increased online bullying over the years, with children being at a greater risk of abuse. However, it’s impossible to ban screen time, completely for parents or kids, given the positive presence of tech in classrooms as well. And so, Cyber Peace Foundation, a cyber security think tank, has partnered with the video app to raise awareness about online safety. Vineet Kumar, President, Cyber Peace Foundation, said, “There have been pressing challenges like exposure to sensitive content, predatory behaviour, and harmful impact on a child’s mental health due to not being able to be as popular as their peers.”

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Source: Cyber Peace Foundation

So, to ensure safety, TikTok has outlined some rules as well that parents need to keep in mind in case they or their child open an account on the app, as part of their #SafeHumSafeInternet initiative.

How to monitor child’s online activity

Even then, it is extremely essential on the part of the parents to regularly monitor their child’s online activity. And how do you do that? Chaudhary suggested the following steps:

For computer:

1. Log in to your Google account from any web browser in your computer.

2. Once you have logged in, click on the account picture at the top right corner of the web page.

3. Click on Google Account option.

4. Click on Data & personalisation tab at the left side of the web page.

5. Scroll the page and click on My Activity option.

or

1. Log in to your Google account from any web browser in your computer.

2. Open a new web browser tab and type http://www.myactivity.google.com and press enter.

For Android mobile:

1. Open your mobile Menu and search for Google app and click on it.

2. Click on More option and the bottom of the page.

3. Click on Search activity.

Tips to ensure online safety

Here are some things parents need to follow to ensure their child’s safety is not abused online, as per Chaudhary.

1. Firstly, one should not share the location on these apps. The personal information shared online should be minimum.

2. Parents should ensure they customise security settings on their mobile phone. Those applications which are not available on Play Store should not be downloaded as they may be risky.

3. Parents need to have an open conversation with their child regarding online safety. There have been children, Chaudhary mentions, who have complained about their privacy being compromised but they do not want to inform their parents even when looking for a solution. There is a big communication gap between parents and kids because they are afraid of being reprimanded.

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4. Parents also need to educate themselves about cyber law and impart the same to their child, especially when it is not part of our current education system. It’s up to parents to teach internet etiquette to kids.