It was 11:05 am when I checked my messages, and to my surprise, the first line read, ‘Hey chocolate beauty!’. I was taken aback. Who was this person? It was an unfamiliar name with the picture of a man on the profile. This was followed by, ‘I just want you here with me. I want to make you scream.’ At that point, I was furious. I felt insulted and assaulted by the words sent in the private message. I did not know this person. ‘Why would he feel it is okay to send a random, sexist message to me?’ 

This is one of the several messages I received in my first few months of returning to social media. So, like all the others, I reported, blocked the person, and tried to get it out of my mind. When I spoke with other ladies, I soon realised that it was a common occurrence.

Many women receive such unsolicited messages and advances. While some laugh and delete, others feel unsafe. Some children and young adults have also found themselves harassed and exploited on the internet. It has also become a place where our young ones are groomed and led into dangerous situations. It however does not have to be this way.

The internet is a place where many people meet and connect but some have had significant damage done to their self-esteem, feelings, or image as a result of other people behind their devices sending unkind messages or exploiting their naivety.

It is a positive move by the educational system to make sure that students are aware of the ways to stay safe online. However, with the increased use of devices during the home schooling era caused by the pandemic, the onus lies with the parents to ensure that the right nmeasures for safety are implemented.

Some useful strategies that can be utilised at home include:

  • Establishing a friendly environment for the child to discuss anything without the fear of being reprimanded or having a penalty issued.
  • Keep the use of computers, tablets, phones, and gaming devices out of the bedroom. Encourage the use of these devices in open spaces where the family can ensure the child’s safety.
  • Parents need to be aware of some of the language used on the internet especially when the children are speaking to someone who is trying to get personal information from them or arranging a meetup.
  • Making use of some internet safety measures provided by internet providers which can be applied to certain devices in the house.
  • Do a daily debrief with the children and gratitude practice so that the children feel an increased sense of self-love and family care.

As we related to each other on the world wide web, let us show compassion and kindness.

Let us demonstrate mutual respect and make the internet a safe space.

Happy Safer Internet Day!?

#internetsafetyfacts #internetsafetyday2021 #internetsafety