2020 has been an extraordinary year; I would have never in my wildest dream imagined the plausibility or effect of COVID-19. For instance, international borders closing, airports shut down, flights cancelled. The busy and social world that I grew up knowing is a place I no longer recognize. This is because our interactions have been limited to countries, friends and even families. Despite this I have to keep on keeping on especially with the work within communities…
On December 3, 2020 #ThrivingThursday Zoom meeting was an interesting, inspiring and engaging time as World Pulse Ambassadors shared what has kept them going through this difficult strange new world of COVID-19 restrictions. I had the task to MC the Zoom call where Ambassador expressed that engaging the communities had not changed and in some instances have even become harder because of cessation of movement, loss of job or Gender Based Violence.
During the same call, our powerful change maker presentation was shared by Mae Ann. The presentation shared the precautions we can all take to keep children safe as they navigate through online learning. Mae Ann shared that even simple things such as limiting the number of hours a child stays on the screen and encouraging physical activity once the learning is complete for the day, could help the child develop holistically. In deed COVID-19 has changed how young children consume information as schools are moving towards online platform to avoid physical meeting and to observe social distancing. Consequently this means more screen time for the children. Mae Ann also encouraged the participants that children need to be kept safe because the internet is a vast unknown world where harmful situations such as inappropriate content, phishing scams, virus or even sharing photos can impact young children.
Over 15 people joined the call and the information presented by Mae Ann was so relevant that some Ambassadors asked for the presentation which we can all share in our communities to parents or guardians. To emphasize Mae Ann presentation, here are some more tips proposed by UNICEF concerning ways to keep children safe while online:
“1. Keep them safe with open communication
Have an honest dialogue with your children about who they communicate with and how. Make sure they understand the value of kind and supportive interactions and that mean, discriminatory or inappropriate contact is never acceptable.
Work with your child to establish rules on how, when and where devices can be used.
2. Use technology to protect them
Check that your child’s device is running the latest software and antivirus programs, and that privacy settings are on. Keep webcams covered when not in use. For younger children, tools such as parental controls, including safe search, can help keep online experiences positive.
Be cautious of free online educational resources. Your child should never have to provide a photo or their full name to use these resources. Remember to check the privacy settings to minimize data collection. Help your child learn to keep personal information private, especially from strangers.
3. Spend time with them online
Create opportunities for your child to have safe and positive online interactions with friends, family and you. Connecting with others is more important than ever at the moment and this can be an excellent opportunity for you to model kindness and empathy in your “virtual interactions”.
Help your child recognize and avoid misinformation and age-inappropriate content that may increase anxiety about the COVID-19 virus. Spend time with your child to identify age appropriate apps, games and other online entertainment.
4. Encourage healthy online habits
Promote and monitor good behavior online and on video calls. Encourage your children to be kind and respectful to classmates, to be mindful of what clothes they wear and to avoid joining video calls from a bedroom.
Familiarize yourself with school policies and helplines to report cyber bullying or inappropriate online content.
5. Let them have fun and express themselves
Encourage your child to take advantage of digital tools that get them up and moving, like online exercise videos for kids and video games that require physical movement.
Remember to balance online recreation with offline activities, including time outside, if possible. “
Our takeaway from the #ThrivingThursday call is that the World Pulse Ambassadors are still very passionate about the ongoing programs and projects within the communities they serve, despite COVID-19 which had forced individuals and families in isolation. World Pulse Ambassadors are still serving their communities because the needs of the communities did not disappear when COVID-19 arrived. We also got to hear from Mae Ann who emphasized on how a parent, adult or guardian can keep children safe online. Another important tip from Mae Ann, was to open a YouTube account in the parent, adults or guardian’s name, this way, the adult can see what content the children are consuming.