Parents worried about privacy of children attending school online, shows Google survey

Google’s latest survey reveals that parents with children attending school online are more worried about online safety than the ones whose children attended school in person. Parents believe that their child’s privacy and security are at risk as there are high chances of fraud or account hacking in online space.

The research says 74 percent of Indian parents expressed increased concern about online safety. But around 34 percent or more than a third of parents interviewed said they “have never spoken to their children about online safety.” The research was conducted in India, and in other countries and the results were almost similar everywhere.

The survey was conducted by Google’s Online Safety Education and the Trust Research team in Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Brazil, Colombia and other countries.

So, what can be done to help children and teens stay safe online? As today is Safer Internet Day, Google has given some tips on how one can stay safe online.

Google’s advise is that parents should teach their children how to choose strong passwords and avoid simple passwords that use names, birthdates, or even favourite cartoon characters. One is advised to use those platforms that “have a strong reputation for user safety. For instance, using an email service like Gmail comes with built-in safety filters to detect phishing emails.” The search giant claims that Gmail blocks 99.9 percent of phishing attacks.

Google says the messaging or gaming apps (with voice chat feature) are the easiest way to reach out to children and could prove to be harmful. Therefore, parents should be aware of their child’s online activities and whom they talk to online.

“When assessing if a game is suitable for your child, it is important to check not only the content of the game, but also whether the app allows online communications with others. Some multiplayer games allow only a few options for social interaction, like a thumbs up rather than a text chat. This reduces risks of unwanted social interactions by quite a lot,” Lucian Teo, Google’s Online Safety Education Lead said in a blog post.

One can enable SafeSearch feature on Google to filter out explicit content in Google’s search results for all searches. These include images, videos and websites. “SafeSearch is designed to help block explicit results like pornography from Google search results,” he added.

Parents can create a Google account for their child and manage it using Family Link. The company says “This allows you to add filters on Google Search, block websites or only give access to the ones you allow or track the location of your child if they have their own device.”

There is a separate app called YouTube Kids, which offers many parental controls. You get to limit screen time, only show videos that you approve or select suitable content based on the age of your child.

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