On Safer Internet Day, Bollywood actor Ayushmann Khurrana, also serving as a UNICEF National Ambassador, underscores the importance of fostering a secure online environment for children. Recognizing the internet's potential as a powerful tool for learning and exploration, Khurrana urges for proactive measures to ensure children can utilize it safely.
Khurrana highlights the dual nature of the internet, emphasizing its role in both facilitating opportunities for growth and connection while also exposing children to potential risks. He stresses the need for regular conversations and training sessions to equip children with the knowledge and skills to navigate the digital world responsibly.
Ayushmann Khurrana says, "The internet is a powerful tool, and we need to ensure that children can make the best use of it. They can use the internet to learn about the world, discover new hobbies, advance their skills, explore job opportunities, and harness its potential safely and securely."
He further shares, "The rise of smartphones and social media has led to an increase in online trolling, which often adversely affects children's mental health and self-esteem. It is important that we educate and sensitize our children on ways to maintain online hygiene – to not only stay protected from trolling and bullying but to also refrain from being an online troll/bully. It is of utmost importance to ensure that our children are empowered enough to approach their trusted adult whether it’s a parent, family member, or teacher if they are being trolled online.”
Lastly, he adds, “Children are taking to the internet from a very formative stage in their lives. From education to friendships to entertainment, every aspect of their lives has an online component. As elders, it is our responsibility to build trust with our children- Trust which is a two-way street where the children trust the adults/guardians enough to turn to them when they need support and for the adults/guardians to trust the children when they turn to them. In the long term though as elders/parents, we have to approach these issues with patience, trust and intent. If required, we should seek professional help for children, without the fear of stigma.”
Ayushmann stresses that children should be made aware that one can report to the social media platform where this trolling has taken place; or to the cyber-crime helpline 1903 or the cyber-crime website where one could even report anonymously.