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Keeping children safe online

At a time when technology is integrated into all aspects of life, how can society’s most vulnerable members be better protected from its harms? A question like this one lay behind the observations on May 6, by a single-judge bench of Delhi High Court, which said that efforts to protect minors should go beyond teaching them about “good touch” and “bad touch” in the physical world. Invoking the concept of “virtual touch”, Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said, “Minors must be equipped with the knowledge and tools to navigate online interactions safely and recognise potential risks lurking in cyberspace .”

More than three decades since the internet entered the public domain, the understanding of how the world wide web impacts society, especially children and young adults, struggles to keep pace with the evolution of the technology itself. Complicating this is the fact that the generations of so-called “digital natives” that have emerged since the late 1990s, have limited or no experience of a world without the internet, even as those responsible for putting safeguards in place continue to frame the unique challenges of the digital world in analog terms.
There is little doubt that the pervasiveness of the internet has made it easier for children and young people to be exposed to dangers, including child sexual abuse, online harassment, cyberbullying and blackmail.

Existing laws such the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act, which mandates that parental consent be taken for processing of a child’s data, go some way towards addressing these concerns. But legislation can only play a limited role, thanks to the dynamic nature of the internet and its threats.
For any effort to protect children to be effective, it must begin from the home and classroom, with frank conversations between children and adults that also take into account the former’s concerns and experiences. As Justice Sharma said, this would involve teaching children about “appropriate online behaviour, recognising warning signs of predatory behaviour, and understanding the importance of privacy settings and online boundaries.”

The internet is a resource, not just for adults, but also for children who rely on it for education, entertainment, socialising and self-realisation, and a fear-based approach would only be counterproductive. Considering that a majority of children in India still either have no or restricted access to the internet, what is called for is a balanced approach that keeps the child safe online, while recognising her right to access the internet.

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Bench
(noun) – The judge or judges composing a court.

न्यायपीठ

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Vulnerable
(adjective) – Defenseless, Exposed, Susceptible, At risk, Unprotected

संवेदनशील

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Decade
(noun) –A period of 10 years

दशक

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Lurk
(verb) – lie hidden, loiter, hide, skulk

छिपा रहना

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Navigate
(verb) – Maneuver, steer, guide, control, pilot,

मार्ग दर्शन करना

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potential (adjective) – possible, likely, prospective, latent, probable, budding संभावित

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Minor
(noun) – Child, Juvenile

नाबालिग

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Public domain (noun) – open to the public, freely available

सार्वजनिक होना

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Integrate (verb) – Combine, amalgamate, merge, unite, blend
समाहित करना

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Lay behind (phrasal verb) – Be the cause of, underpin, form the basis of, be the reason for, account for

कारण बनना

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Equip (verb) – to prepare somebody for a particular task

किसी को विशेष कार्य के लिए तैयार करना

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Invoke (verb) – to use a law in order to achieve something

नियम, क़ानून आदि प्रयोग करना

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Cyberspace (noun) – Digital space, virtual environment, internet, online world

डिजिटल जगत

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Evolution (noun) – development, progress, growth, progression, advancement

विकास

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Keep pace with (phrase) – Match, keep up with, stay aligned with, stay on par with, synchronize with

के साथ तालमेल रखना

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Aspect (noun) –feature, facet, side, characteristic, पहलू

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Address
(verb) – tackle, see to, deal with, confront, grapple with

सुलझाना, निपटाना

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Put in place (phrase) – To establish or implement.

स्थापित करना

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Mandate (verb) – require (something) to be done; make mandatory.

अनिवार्य बनाना

 

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Complicate (verb) – Make difficult, confuse, entangle, convolute, complexify

जटिल करना

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Native (noun) – Local, indigenous person, original inhabitant, native person

स्थानीय

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Analog (adjective) – not involving or relating to the use of computer technology, as a contrast to a digital counterpart

 
 

 

 

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Pervasiveness (noun) – Ubiquity, omnipresence, widespread nature, prevalence

सर्वव्यापकता

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Socialise (verb) – Interact, mingle, mix, associate, fraternize

सामाजिकरण करना

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Cyberbullying
(noun) – Online harassment, Internet bullying, Digital bullying, Web harassment, Electronic bullying

साइबर उत्पीड़न

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Dynamic
(adjective) – Changing, adaptable, flexible, fluid, versatile

गतिशील

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Counterproductive
(adjective) – having the opposite of the desired effect.

उल्टा साबित होना

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Legislation
(noun) – law, body of laws, constitution, rules, rulings

क़ानून

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Thanks
to (phrase) – owing to, as a result of, because of के कारण से

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Predatory
(adjective) – acting with or possessed by overbearing, greedy, or selfish motives

लूटेरा

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Abuse
(noun) – Mistreatment, exploitation, wronging

शोषण

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Call for
(phrasal verb) – demand, require, request, ask for, ask

मांग करना

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Considering
(preposition) – taking into account, given, bearing in mind,

ध्यान में रखते हुए

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Rely
(on) (verb) – Depend, count, bank on

पर निर्भर होना

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Existing
(adjective) – current.

मौजूदा

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Take into account
(phrase) – consider (something) along with other factors before reaching a decision

ध्यान में रखना

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So
called (adjective) – supposed, alleged, presumed, ostensible

तथाकथित

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Consent
(noun) – assent, concurrence, accord

सहमति

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Safeguard
(noun) – protection, defence, guard, shelter, screen रक्षा, बचाव