A software solution aimed at protecting children from negative effects of the Internet is proposed in Azerbaijan.
Electronic Security Center, which is under Azerbaijan's Communications and High Technologies Ministry, proposes the application of "Parental Control" which prevents children from accessing inappropriate content.
The Center held its first consultation on the protection of children from the Internet's negative effects for the parents of the pupils at Zarifa Aliyeva School.
The software allows blocking access to prohibited Internet sites and programs, generates reports, and schedules the PC's usage.
Earlier, the Center also prepared proposals to protect children from the side effects of the Internet. These proposals mainly provide educational work for secondary school teachers and parents.
The Center also has an initiative for the establishment of an organization that would be solve the existing problems at a higher level.
The organization can be established with the participation of the Internal Affairs Ministry and the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs, the Center believes.
The E-security Center also intends to work closely with software solutions developers, monitor websites, and prevent access to them by the younger generation.
Nowadays, many Azerbaijanis buy tablet PCs, laptops, and mobile phones for their young children to entertain and educate them. But lack of internet skills on the part of parents can harm their children.
Parents should realize the dangerous side effects of Internet browsing for their children. Most parents think not leaving children alone with strangers is quite reasonable in real life. Why do they assume that surfing the web alone will not harm their children then?
The Internet is a controversial place and includes both positive and negative sides. While its positive sides for children are obviously of an educative nature, the negative sides may teach children really bad thing.
Aggression and distraction are not the only negative affects of the Internet; they also include more dangerous ones such as pornography, religious sects, drugs, and online dating, which may lead even to human trafficking.
However, imposing strict restrictions on the use of the Internet is not a good solution, because poor knowledge of the Internet may affect children's education opportunities.
Head of children's rights protection league Yusif Bekirov believes it is not right to restrict Internet usage for children.
"Banning the use of the Internet or a computer will only increase their attraction for children. It is necessary to create different educational games on the Internet for children's development. Such games are spread all over the world and there is a need for them in Azerbaijan. Having no alternative, the situation is deteriorating, and imposing a ban will only worsen it," he said.
Even if parents are Internet-illiterate, there are some tips to protect children from offensive content on the Internet. Parents should control how much time their children spend on the Internet and enquire what they do online.
There are also many software programs to help parents control their children's online life. There are also special safe browsers, search engines, and websites for children. Their most important advantage is the filters for links, banners, and pop-up windows, which can be controlled by parents.
Notwithstanding all the possibilities, guidance by parents who know their children and their habits is more helpful in protecting children. It is necessary to speak to your child not only about their everyday activities in kindergarten, but also about this modern play pit.
Pros and cons
Dr. Araz Manuchekhri-Lalei, a senior lecturer on psychiatry at Azerbaijan's State Medical University, believes that the negative sides of the Internet are connected to the time spent in the World Wide Web.
"Using Internet is really useful and wonderful if it is in small doses and aimed at acquiring knowledge and improving skills and education, and of course observes the timeframe," he said.
The Internet can also teach quite wicked things and actions, which is a very different phenomenon, he added.
"Nowadays, there are concerns among psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, psychologists, and gastroenterologists, who are all saying with one voice that prolonged use of the Internet and wrong pathological Internet usage lead to consequences such as psychological dependence and severe eye, heart, and nerves diseases," he said.
Another sad outcome is the destruction of personal identity and generalization, Manuchekhri-Lalei said.
"It is bad that Internet dependence can pass from childhood to adulthood and shape adults' behavior. For these kids, the Internet replaces parents, communication, and acquisition of life experience through the older generation, like grandparents. It is a great tragedy that is destroying the cultural foundations of our society," he highlighted.
The Internet replaces the real life with the virtual one, and the child perceives everything in the shape of cartoons and pictures, the psychiatrist said. Moreover, children get the false impression that they can replay or relook anything they want, and lose the notion of a real life.
Watching the videos of dangerous stunts or even suicides, children tend to repeat these actions in real life, thinking that it is just another extreme game which can be stopped at any moment or be replayed, he said.
Manuchekhri-Lalei emphasized the necessity of parental control without crossing the line, because a negative reaction may come about instead of a positive one.
"Internet should be age-appropriate. Access to Internet pages and games should be different for five and 17-year-old children," he stressed.
He also pointed to the educative nature of the Internet, which provides an opportunity to offer a good education to children who live far away or are disabled.
These positive sides of the Internet should be used, and trusted scientific websites for children should be created in the country, giving them a chance to learn everything they are interested in from reliable sources. These sources can also help parents. Using the Internet for such purposes will make it a friend, not an enemy, he said.