Ranchi: Parental monitoring of a child’s virtual world has become bare necessity in these scary times of cyberbullying, sexting and online predation.
Cyber Peace Foundation, a non-partisan civil society organisation in the city, has teamed up with experts from Google to kick off a progressive campaign to sensitise mothers about safe practices in the e-zone. The drive to groom an army of cyber moms is being supported by the National Commission for Women and IPS Officers’ Wives’ Association.
The first phase of the training kicked off at Sarala Birla Public School in Mahilong, on the fringes of Ranchi, on January 3 and will conclude on Friday. As many as 150 mothers participated in the 10am-to-5pm workshops that delved into social networking lingo and cyber threats and security.
The second phase will begin at another city school from January 15 and will target another 150. From March, expert teams will fan out to different parts of the state to groom more cyber moms.
Vineet Kumar, a founder member of Cyber Peace Foundation, said training parents about cyber conduct had become imperative in the wake of dangerous online games like the Blue Whale Challenge, a dare that has driven many youngsters to suicide.
The virtual world is vast, he observed, which is why the training has been divided into three modules – basic, intermediate and advanced.
“There are mothers who don’t know how to use a smartphone. They form the basic group. There are other who know how to use simple applications like WhatsApp. The intermediate module teaches them safe habits in uploading, downloading, sharing or posting anything,” Kumar said.
Decoding code languages popular among youngsters is a vital lesson being imparted by the cyber mom campaigners.
“Social media lingo is born in a jiffy and morphs even faster. It is important to keep up to keep your child safe from any harm. For example, if you see PAW on the screen, it should alert you because PAW means ‘parents are watching’. Similarly, HO stands for ‘whore’; Netflix n Chill means ‘come let’s make out’; 99 is the code for ‘parents gone’; and Straight Fire means ‘hot’ or ‘trendy’,” explained Kumar.
Mothers are being taught not to panic in case of cyber threat and seek legal recourse.
“For instance, if an objectionable video about your child goes viral, immediately contact police and invoke the Pocso and Juvenile Justice Acts. We are empowering mothers because that is how a society is empowered. Also, the right degree of surveillance is always better than restricting access, which can brew rebellion among youngsters,” the expert added.
Sunita Mohanty, director (trust and safety) of Google India, summed up the cyber mom initiative as “a platform for mothers to come together and become vocal advocates for safety of children online”.
Sunita Mishra, a homemaker and mother of a Sarala Birla school student, described her experience as “enlightening” and said she had never felt or understood the need to keep her phone locked until now.
Do you want to join the cyber workshop for mothers? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org