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The internet can be quite challenging if you don’t know to navigate it. Children are quick to adapt to the online environment, but most parents still find it daunting to understand the ways of the cyber world. The virtual world is not a jungle, but it poses the same dangers in the real world. Recognising the perils and arming one’s self with the necessary skills are essential to thrive in both the worlds. Since the internet is relatively newer territory, it helps to have a map. The Child Digital Safety initiative launched by the UAE is one such map.

The initiative is important since the internet has become an integral part of our lives. It is a critical tool in education and entertainment. But danger lurks in the form of cyberbullying, sexting, grooming, games that promote suicides, online addictions and so on.

So it is imperative to teach children to use the internet safely. This is precisely what the Child Digital Safety initiative aims to achieve — to raise digitally literate generations that can fearlessly succeed in the online world.

The initiative aims to instil positive values that would enable young people to steer clear of malignant sites and platforms and use the internet to their benefit. The plan also will familiarise parents and educators with solutions that will help children tackle online challenges.

Parents too will benefit from this initiative. It will empower them as well in their journey through the virtual world. Very often we hear stories of adults who have lost lots of money to unscrupulous online operators. Criminals and fraudsters prey on the digitally illiterate with get-rich schemes supposedly endorsed by celebrities, online programmes that offer fake degrees and other incredible offers.

If you are ignorant of their modus operandi, it is easy to get scammed. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are the favourite haunts of scamsters who peddle their wares with enticing ads.

At a time when tech majors and social media giants are harvesting personal data and selling it without consent, it would be naive to believe that we can escape online marketers. Not all of them are crooked in their intentions. Online marketing has been catching up if the sales figures are anything to go by. It will be prudent to have good awareness of the online dangers so that we can use the internet to our advantage. That’s what the Child Digital Safety plan aims to achieve.