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National Public School

Dear Parents,

As you are aware social networking sites are quickly emerging as lifelines that sustain the very existence of teenagers. No doubt these sites provide a way to interact with others who share the same interests as ours. But it is proven that more than its social benefits,  social networking sites have the power to interfere with our homes, our lives, our relationships, our careers, our parenting abilities and our very concept of who we are.

A large portion of studies on internet addiction come from countries like Taiwan, China and South Korea, which have some of the highest broadband use in the world. The South Korean government has declared Internet addiction a "public health crisis," and China has over 300 dedicated treatment centres. India is catching up at an alarming rate with this growing trend, especially among teenagers. A recent study reveals that 77 percent of Indian children have been bullied, harassed or stalked by anonymous users. What is significant is that only 50 percent of parents even believe that their children could be exposed to such experiences while surfing. An average Indian child spends about nine hours online each week.

Probably the most widely used and known social networking site among our teenagers is Facebook. Studies reveal that  almost half of Facebook users visit it every day and some of its users spend an inordinate amount of time on it, allowing the hours to while away unnoticed, the chores to go incomplete, and even going so far as to ignore family and friends in the actual world.

A real life instance of the boy Ryan of Grade 6 from Indore bears testimony to this glaring truth. He was found drifting away habitually while the classroom interactions were going on. His eyes were bleary most often and there was an evident lack of interest towards anything done in class. An interaction with the parents, brought out the truth that as soon as Ryan wakes up in the morning, he would log on to his Facebook account spend some time and similarly before retiring to bed at night made sure to check his account once again. This was apart from the time spent on it in the evenings. Adequate sleep held no importance to him. Instead, he is prepared to stay up late just to be able to accommodate his Facebook need. It is evident that Ryan has clearly fallen under the spell of Facebook.

Another instance is of Piya Singh of Grade11 who was attacked on Facebook with false accounts made using her middle name. Her pictures posted online were carefully manipulated for this purpose. She lost face among her friends and relatives and was forced to move out of town unable to bear the unkind truth. These are not isolated incidents as it is observed that this addiction to the virtual world is gaining popularity among our students rampantly.

It is at this juncture that the school seeks parental support in limiting students engaging carelessly in this new found digital diet. Parents can ensure that they set controls on their home computers to rein in poor online habits by following the guidelines mentioned below.

  • Curb unrestrained usage by cautioning them on cyber-bullying and harassment that tend to happen to teenagers of either gender who have a strong online presence.

  • Make them aware that the anonymity of social networking sites makes it easy for unscrupulous people to target young teenagers and engage them in harmful conversations.

  • Talk to them on how predators pose as teenagers and lure children into harmful real-world contact.

  • To avert identity theft, direct them not to reveal personal information such as date of birth of self and parents, telephone numbers, and home address.

  • Monitor them on a regular basis which means spending a considerable amount of quality time with them. This will widen the channels of communication so that they have nothing to conceal.

  • part from having access to their Facebook accounts, periodically check the history of internet sites visited and let them know that their well-being is the motive rather than prying. Besides it is imperative that they appreciate the fact that parents need to play a protective role in their lives as they are still legally 'Minors'.

  • Attend Awareness Workshops to be in step with technology and educate them on phishing, mobile security etc. Install Internet Filters such as Net Nanny Parental Controls 6.5, PureSight PC2011, CYBERsitter 11, K9 Web Protection or any other such filters that can force safe search on internet search engines to check entry to unsolicited sites.

  • Maintain a time schedule for Internet or computer usage which can be half an hour on weekdays and not more than an hour on weekends. Research for investigative projects does not require more than four to five hours a week. 

  • Make sure that the home computer is placed in a high traffic area where there is constant movement of family members and not in isolated areas like the child’s bedroom or study area.

  • Apprise them that Internet is a privilege and not a prerogative and can be withdrawn by the parent at any point of time, if misused or used irresponsibly.

  • Caution them that any derogatory comments on fellow students, parents, teachers or school posted on social networking sites will be viewed as a serious offence and may lead to strict disciplinary action from the school.
  • We sincerely hope that to ensure your ward’s online safety and for their larger good, their internet usage will be scheduled, controlled and monitored consistently at home so that they spend  their time in a more holistic and productive manner.

Dr. (Mrs) Bindu Hari

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