On the occasion of the World Safer Internet Day 2015, Tharros talked with the Messinian (from Kyparissia) doctor and specialist in safe navigation issues for children, George Kormas. During our conversation, he gave instructions for proper use of Internet and advice to parents about what to do when they realize that their child is in trouble
• What ages are more vulnerable? The ages in which we are facing a big problem is that of the primary and after puberty
• How does on-line use affect children ? Children develop online personality from their first steps, and the preoccupation with the Internet affects their behavior in the real world. Children playing games with violence are likely to develop aggressiveness in the real world. Exposure to inappropriate and harmful content can cause terror in children and abruptly halt childhood and the innocence to which they are entitled . Also, the standards put forward by the advertising industry may lead to unacceptable behaviors for their age. Finally, the uncontrolled use of the Internet by children can affect their school performance and their social skills. And the misuse of the Internet can lead to the development of dependency behaviors. Social networks are not acceptable for primary school children. Moreover, companies themselves prohibit the use of primary school children. Besides, the use of social networks may present many risks, such as pornography, grooming and bullying
• In what way is the Internet safe for children? The internet is safe when there are specific rules and clear boundaries in relation to its use. The internet is a useful tool as long as you know its strengths and how to exploit it in order to better our education, entertainment and communication.
• Children increasingly seek tablet, mobile or laptop. What do you consider the most appropriate age for parents to succumb, and tell us some important rules to enforce They should understand that online games, and Internet access is granted to their parents and is not a right. The right should be only if it is used for searching for information, which is not done in our country (Greece). Parents should be aware that once you give children access to the Internet, they must set rules for use and have control of these rules. If the parents are unable to surf with their children and have control of the time children spend in the medium, and verify the content of web pages visited, then it is preferable either to authorize the entry of children Internet only when they are present, or postpone the provision for children, until they are able to supervise.
• What should parents look out for, when their child is online? Communicating with strangers and visits to websites with illegal and harmful content are two issues that parents need to focus on.
• What should parents do, if aware that their child is at risk and how easy it is to understand it? Parents must earn the trust of their children and in the online world. I must say that whatever happens on the internet, you should speak about it together, to address the issue. If the child falls victim to online bullying, or is bullying on the internet, their daily life is affected, he is withdrawn and avoiding use of the Internet.
If the child falls victim to online bullying, parents can call the line of Greek Safer Internet Centre 2106007686 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, you can report bullying anonymously to the complaints line www.safeline.gr or to resort to prosecution or the police. In any case, you must stand next to their child without anger, but with the maturity that befits any parent whose child has a problem
• What is the situation in Messinia? Messinia is one of the regions in our country where every year there are dozens of interventions for schools and parents in relation to the safe online use. Fifty renowned scientists educators and mental health professionals do great work. I wish the other regions could have the consistency we have in Messinia!
The internet has endless possibilities, it is sufficient to use it creatively. We all work together to create a child friendly internet without risks and respecting rights