The other day, I googled the word “cyber” to learn more about its origin and usage. To my surprise, along with sites on ‘cyber cafes’, ‘cyber security firm’, and ‘cyber laws’, pages of chatroom URLs and other sites containing lewd content opened up. I didn’t understand this, after all cyber is one word that we use very regularly and what other connotation could it have had? I was wrong, proving that even Cybermum has to keep learning all the while.
So what is the ‘other’ meaning or use of cyber? It refers to explicit sexual texting or internet chatting with or without using the webcam. Downright scary, if it happens to be your 10-year old brat accessing such sites accidentally while surfing the net for some computer project
Another time, I was looking for pics of the ‘bigger planets’ in our system for a friend’s child. When I happened to press ENTER just after typing the word bigger, to my horror, pics of voluptuous women, with surgically or digitally enhanced bodies, filled a large part of my screen! Before the kids started thinking that their Mom was queer, I hastily closed the tab and deleted that page from history….narrow shave, I tell you!
This set me thinking and I deliberately started Googling words that may lead my kids to sites I don’t want them to access. Such leading words have connotations that are either sexual (love, position, curves, hot, stormy), or violent (fight, terror, gang, rattle), or drug-related (crack, dart).
Did you know ‘Death on Arrival’ and ‘dew’ are slangs for Heroin and Marijuana respectively?
And I was led to such sites only because I had turned off McAfee parental control to access certain sites for my work.
Hence I am fully convinced that the best safeguard against any such accidental access is the installation of security software in your PC/laptop that offers parental control feature. Please spend some time understanding this feature and creating your own password-protected control. Block sites by name, content, or words. Ensure each person has a separate login id and fix protection as per the age of that person. This way your 6-year old will gain access to very basic kids sites, while your 13-year old will be able to work on projects and play online games.
Also make your kids promise that they would come to you if they notice anything improper or receive any kind of lurid or abusive message or mail. As always, good parenting is the first and last word on keeping kids safe online.
Stay safe, stay happy!