Protect children from exposure to harmful content

Online girl

A girl uses a cellphone.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Are you concerned about the content your child is exposed to through the media and the internet? Advancement in technology, coupled with the migration from analogue to digital TV transmission, has resulted in proliferation of digital channels, hence easy access to all manner of content, especially by children.

The emergence of social media applications has made access to content easy for all ages, including tech-savvy minors, who are now competing for remote control units and internet passwords with adults.

It is now incumbent upon parents, caregivers and guardians to guide their children on content consumption on traditional channels, digital media, video dens, play stations, gaming shops as well as platforms such as Facebook and TikTok.

Research shows that children who continuously consume violent TV or internet content have a likelihood of becoming violent adults. This is because children are easily impressionable and tend to imitate what they see or watch other people doing.

Research further shows that violent scenes in film, TV series, computer games and video games affect children’s emotions and thoughts.

Shape value systems

Media and film also shape value systems and behaviour, more so among young people. This is why the media must be objective and sieve what is shown on the screens, digital platforms, social sites as well as cinemas. Broadcasters must observe the Watershed Period Principle (5am to 10pm), where all TV and radio content should be rated GE (General Exhibition).

Exposure to violence through media and film may lead to aggressive behaviour among adolescents. We should monitor what our children consume in terms of media and film content to ensure that they are not exposed to explicit material that may hamper their social, moral and psychological development.

Regulation of what airs on TV, radio and other broadcast channels as well what is posted and shared on social media is, therefore, necessary to ensure content is examined and rated for age suitability and that proper safeguards are in place to protect minors from exposure to inappropriate or adult content.

In addition, there is a need to formulate policies and laws to ensure that content that is disseminated via the internet and social media platforms is examined and rated for age suitability.

It is evident that child molesters and more so paedophiles are taking advantage of children’s online presence to bully them.

The relevant agencies should put in place measures to protect children from such threats. Parents should also monitor their children online footprints and provide the required guidance.

We need to aggressively create awareness on parenting through media literacy campaigns.

This will help parents to know how to monitor, control as well as guided their children on content consumption across all the media channels. Parents also need digital skills to be able to track their children online presence in view of the emerging technologies.

Ms Musyoki is a Forensic Psychologist.