We live in a sensitive and completely digitally-driven historical moment, where everything is networked: we work in smart working, students take distance learning (DaD) and, by now, interpersonal relationships are often tied to social networks.
The more we surf the net, the more the risk of running into something dangerous increases and one can come into contact with incidents of cyberbullying, sexting and much more.
Not are only person-related risks those that can be found by surfing, there are also device-related risks such as viruses, malware, spyware.
All this online activity has only weakened 'defences' against overexposure to our online activities, highlighting a whole range of well-known problems such as cyberbullying, sexting and revenge porn, online grooming, viruses, malware, spyware.
Chimpa, an MDM that originated in education and has since evolved to many other areas, enables schools and parents, but also companies and numerous other entities, to place 'filters' between the user and the vast world of the Internet. Thanks to what is called the MTD module, it is able to block malware, ransomware and viruses, but above all, thanks to its MDM features, it can combat cyberbullying by limiting some of the devices' functionalities.
What aspects need more attention when it comes to minors surfing the net?
Talking about children and the use of technology, gender differences must be taken into account, with females already using tools such as Instagram and Tik Tok from the age of 9-11, while males are more focused on online games.
In the 12-13 age group, on the other hand, cases of cyberbullying are more widespread, but also Sexting and Revenge Porn.
It would therefore be necessary on the part of the school to initiate activities to prevent these problems, perhaps by asking for the collaboration of the Postal Police or other people who can bring their testimony to young people.
Sexting: neologism used to indicate the sending of sexually explicit messages, texts and/or images using mainly the telephone but also, more generally, the Internet.
The term was first used in 2005 and can be identified by three different types:
- Exchange of images and texts between two partners
- Exchange of images and texts with the involvement of outsiders in the relationship
- Exchange of images and texts between subjects who do not have a relationship but one of them would like to have one
Through the web, images can easily and quickly spread, creating problems for the person being portrayed.
Revenge Porn: sharing of intimate images or videos via the Internet without the consent of the perpetrators, which is not always based on revenge. The immediate effect of this behaviour is the destruction of a person's reputation.
Today, the average age of parents is under 40; yet, very often, there is a lack of awareness of the problems associated with excessive use of devices by children and adolescents. Analysing the data published by ISTAT on the average time spent on the Internet of young people between 9 and 13 years old shows that they go to the 4 hours for computers on the way up to 5 hours for the use of mobile devices. This shows how young people make extensive use of it even away from the eyes of the family. Surely the limited possibility of controlling the youngsters is the greatest difficulty for a parent.
The new generations are now defined by everyone as "digital natives" because they know how to interact with technology from their earliest years. Precisely for this reason, they very often have difficulty in understanding what the risks are linked to these tools. Within online games, for example, chat rooms are often used without regard to who one meets and, very often, providing personal information. It frequently happens that telephone number, home address, school attended and many more information is published online without any scruples as to who can read it. This leads, in many cases, to the receipt of inappropriate requests from strangers towards minors.
One of the greatest risks is the use of social networks that are, by their very nature, very risky, as Tik Tok can be, for example, because it is completely devoid of any restrictions on the profiles that are created. The risk, in this case, of being viewed even by strangers is very high, consider that in 2018 about 40% of young people between 9 and 12 years old opened a social profile leaving their phone number and other sensitive data visible.
Let's not forget another tool that can be compared to a social even if it is not: WhatsApp, which is widely used for several hours a day. The indiscriminate use of these instrumentsand technology in general, can lead to a loss of concentration, reduced attention at school and negatively affects social relationships. Paradoxically, the creation of group chats - at class level - that could potentially be a source of exchange and sharing often become the place where the weakest and most fragile are mocked and discriminated against. Situations that can easily be likened to episodes of cyberbullying.
During the last two years, there has been an increase in crimes against children, does this correspond to an equally high increase in parental control tools?
Unfortunately, Parents and schools are not always familiar with the control tools they would have at their disposal to manage and monitor children's devices. That is why we are trying to support them more and more in becoming aware of these tools. Technologywhich in this particular context is the source of dangerseen from a different perspective, it becomes also the solution to stem the spread of these issues. Above all, these tools can be used in an easy way by making children's devices completely safe.
More and more young people, but also children, are surfing without the direct supervision of adults and this has increased the danger of stumbling across sites that are not suitable for their age. It therefore becomes fundamental to set up filtering strategies or make use of instruments that do it for us. Never forget the importance of proper education of children that starts in schools and goes all the way home: children are intelligent and perceptive, so they can understand very well the topics that are explained to them. Simply prohibit the use of an application or maniacally control their devices is certainly not the solution better, on the contrary it is essential to explain to them the risks they run and what some of the consequences of their actions might be. Prohibition often becomes the main cause of rule transgression while education contributes to the emergence of better people able to inhabit this new virtual world.
In 2017 the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of the Republic approved a law "Provisions for the protection of minors for the prevention and fight against the phenomenon of cyberbullying". with the aim of providing a series of measures to prevent the fight against bullying and cyberbullying. The law provides for a series of interventions ranging from a simple warning to outright denunciation.
There are situations in which it is unthinkable to exclude authoritiesone must never underestimate the dangers of the web, which can also lead to serious consequences that have, unfortunately, been reported in the national media.
Knowledge is a very useful tool for students and adults alike; knowing and observing children's behaviour can be of great help in preparing targeted actions aimed at their protection. Where only our human actions cannot be a complete tool, technology can step in.