Some common questions from parents about online safety!

While relationships formed online are growing nowadays, it is important to talk to your children about the risks involved in them, without creating paranoia or fear.

Show them real time news about case scenarios where children have ended up in very risky situations, including being gang raped or being trafficked after they meet up with people whom they have met online. In a lot of cases, predators use fake profiles to target children and do so by establishing a relationship with them. Even with genuine profiles, there are cases where older children or adults lure children to them through online relationships, exploit them and use their images as a means to threaten them into further abuse. These can also, unfortunately, be even close friends or relatives known to the individual. There is no gender bias or age specifics in who is being targeted online. Involvement of money and drugs could make such situations even more dangerous.

In the process of explaining all this to your child, try not to invade their privacy too much or create fear of the internet or put unreasonable restrictions on them. Know that it is best to give your children all necessary information and trust them to make wise decisions. Be sure to tell your children that the most important thing they do is to never give into threats, to try and be careful about what they share in regards to their personal images and that they reach out for support if they do end up in any kind of trouble.

While using the internet your child/teenager may share compromising photographs on purpose or by accident. Try to be calm in such situations and do not shame or blame your child. If you find out that such photos are out there, find out from your child/teen where all such photos have been posted and to who mall it has been sent. Knowing this information will help you handle things and control the spread of the photos. If the photo has been shared on purpose by your teenager convince him/her to take it down after explaining to him/her why it is risky to have compromising photos online. Do not lose your temper if they refuse to take it down. If you force them to remove it, they may post it again. Instead, calmly explain to them how these photos could be exploited by sharing and re-sharing. Help them understand why this is wrong, age inappropriate or even illegal. Provide them with context. If the photo has been shared by accident delete it immediately and report to the site/app that it was shared without consent. This can prevent further circulation of the photos. If someone has shared or circulated the photo, report it to the cyber police. Take the help of trusted persons if you are overwhelmed and unable to take action. If they have already shared compromising photo graphsand are worried about it, sit them down and reassure them that it’s okay, tell them that their photo is just one among thousands of photographs that are uploaded to internet every day, and that you are there to support them no matter what. Get external help if needed and reach out to the law enforcement if you are not able to handle the situation by yourself. Keep your child updated and make sure that you do not appear worried in front of them. Do not blame them. Tell them that there are more people out there to help them than they can imagine. And that it would be dealt with confidentially. Calm yourself down too by reaching out for support and knowing that there are people to help. There are lots of information available online on dealing with such issues. The concerned apps/sites also have information on them on how to get support in such circumstances.

Be patient and understanding and listen to your child without judging them. They will need your support and care if they are in trouble. Do not resort to a blame game. Do not be dismissive about these issues also. If you get angry or impatient with them, they might not open up to you again. Try to resolve the issue yourself or get support from experts if it is beyond your capabilities. Take the help of the police if there are serious issues in which your child is involved. Take your child for a consultation with a mental health expert or child psychologist if he/she seems traumatised. Continue to hand hold children on the internet even after the present issue has been resolved. Talk to them regarding online safety and safe online practices. Let them know that you are there for them and keep communication lines open. Do not forget to seek help for yourself if the stress becomes too much. You need to remember to take care of yourself as well. With online issues, there is always a fear that unwanted content might come up later in life. Reassure yourself and the child that there are plenty of support systems to move ahead fearlessly. Once you are able to move on, remember to not let the incident/people define you or your child’s life. Heal, find closure and move on to better times.

  1. Restrict computer/phone use to only a couple of hours a day.
  2. Do not let them use computer/phone late at night.
  3. Before imposing restrictions, try to explain to them why they are being imposed and let them know that it is for their benefit. Try explaining it with scientific back up on the effects of addiction.
  4. Cut off complete access to internet/games for 14 to 21 days.
  5. Once you reintroduce access, monitor usage so that they do not go back to old habits.
  6. Supervise their activities when they are on the computer/phone.
  7. Set time limits on gaming and other apps that your child uses.
  8. Get them interested in outdoor activities or hobbies like gardening, playing in the park, caring for pets, like reading, painting, sewing, writing, etc.
  9. If they seem to need further support, reach out to professionals for help.

“Internet or gaming addiction is the compulsive use of internet/gaming applications that results in significant impairment in an individual’s functioning in various life domains over a prolonged period.

Some of the signs of internet or gaming addiction are:

  • Withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, moodiness and uneasiness when one cannot access the internet/game.
  • Over dependence on internet/game to cope with the negative aspects of life.
  • Neglecting other areas of life such as family, relationships, school, work, etc.
  • Prioritising internet/gaming time over everything else.
  • Ignoring sleep, food and other activities to stay online or to play games.
  • Fatigue, dark circles around eyes, carpal tunnel syndrome are some of the physical/bodily signs.
  • Irritability, lack of concentration, procrastination of important duties, etc.”

Grooming is the way in which a probable predator takes into confidence a possible victim, and often their family members, for the purpose of using the victim for the predator’s needs, very often, sexual needs or at times, even for trafficking. Online grooming is when individuals are targeted online with the same purpose in mind. The abuser will try to gain the trust of the individual and leverage this trust to blackmail/use them.

Online grooming can happen anywhere. In the case of children, abusers will try to go to sites which are more popular with children. They may pose as children themselves or as trustworthy adults. They will try to establish “friendships” through online gaming chat boxes or through social media.

Paedophiles and child abusers may use set of tactics to sexually exploit children. These tactics may include: Providing extra care, attention and support than that is needed to vulnerable children.

Pretending to be in love with the children and luring them into relationships.

Understanding the weak points in the children and using that to gain their trust. Subsequently, exploiting such trust to shift expectations of what good and moral behaviour is, to sexually exploit children. Getting the children to share compromised images or creating such images without their knowledge. Further leveraging fear and shame in the children to keep them silent and use them further, especially, using whatever material is available, like compromised images of the child. Tell your children that though the world and the internet are beautiful spaces, there are some people who can make it bad. Make them aware of online safety rules and teach them to follow them, especially regarding meeting strangers/online friends alone. Also, tell them to never share anything which anyone can use against them. If someone genuinely loves you, they wouldn’t need compromised images that might cause problems for you later in life as everything posted online has a risk of being displayed. For more information on conveying this topic, please watch “Online Predators” by Bodhini NGO Kochi on You Tube and show them news clippings on how children and adults fall into traps like these and end up in a really bad state. Teach them that there are people to support them and to reach out if in trouble. Most importantly teach them to never ever give into threats.

The internet has a lot of adult content and chances are your children will chance upon the same at one point or the other. Your child might be curious to know about certain things and it is always better for them to hear about this from you rather than from an unknown source which might give them a distorted version of the subject. Let them ask questions and give them truthful answers as far as possible while taking into consideration their age and comfort level.

Educate them about the issues of accessing adult content with proper reasons and information. Teach them about consent and the need to respect their own as well as other people’s bodies. There are lots of materials available on this topic on the internet that you can refer to. You can also check our blog at to know why and how we can talk to children regarding adult content.

Provide dedicated mobiles/computer systems configured for use by children. Use only child safe browsers on such systems. Create networking or user accounts by providing correct age of the child so that such sites are appropriately allowing contents for children. Avoid sharing mobiles or systems used by parents as the browsers and configurations might not have any control on adult contents. Set parental controls on your home network/ broadband/mobile network to prevent your children from assessing inappropriate content. As they get older, read up on “why I must talk to my children about pornography” on our blog at, and talk to them so that they understand the impact of inappropriate content on them. YouTube kids and Google kids are other alternatives that children can safely use in order to prevent inappropriate contents from popping up.

Teach children that the trauma of being bullied could sometimes lead to individuals taking their own lives. Teach them to respect others and not to put them down as it affects even our own wellbeing and adds negativity to our lives along with destroying others’ lives. We could become an accessory to murder if someone takes their lives due to bullying.

As a parent, set right expectations on good behaviour and the challenges associated with bullying others. Also, update them on the legal provisions and the penalties and punishments associated with bullying.

Patiently hear them out and support your child. Explore details and see that the evidence of bullying is saved and made available to the police if you decide to pursue legal action. In some cases, the child may need counselling and medical support in addition to your continued support for recovery to a normal situation. There are also lots of resources available online on dealing with cyber bullying that one can access.

If you happen to see your children watching inappropriate content, remain calm. Do not blame or shame them. Your younger children might not understand the difference between safe content and unsafe content. Explain to them the difference and why unsafe content is bad for them. Teach them about body safety rules and age-appropriate content and the effect of how it could be harmful for their development.

With your older children/teens, it might have been a more conscious choice, so try to understand why they did what they did. Calmly ask them about where they got access to the content and then explain the consequences (some of the content might be illegal so there could be legal consequences to them as well) of viewing these types of content. Explain how this content can get addictive and cause neurological and behavioural changes too. Some of them might need support to get out of this space. Get support from online spaces/professionals on how to deal with this issue.

For further information please look up our blog on talking to children regarding pornography on.

Some common questions from children about online safety!

Ask yourself this: What type of photos do you upload in your social media account? Photos from your happiest times or of sad, boring days? The answer would be the former right? People post only what is their shareworthy moments on social media and algorithms push it forward. So, remember that your friends are also doing the same. Just because they seem to be having fun in their lives, does not mean that they have no unhappy or tough moments. Most people post only their happy moments, sometimes even pretending that they are having a good time. They are just like you. Try not to compare your life with others’. Comparisons can also lead to sleep disruption, unrealistic view of other people’s lives, loneliness, insecurity, need for validation etc. This need for validation could lead to mental health issues. There have also been reports of teenagers suffering from anxiety and depression from the use of social media.

Be mindful of how you feel. If you feel anxious, sad or depressed while using social media or the internet, it would be wise to undergo a digital detoxification for at least two weeks. Cut yourself off from the things that do not make you happy. Uninstall apps/lock them or set time limits on them. Engage in other offline activities. Take up a hobby or sport. Spend time with your family and friends. For more information on digital wellness, visit

People you meet online might not always be who they say they are. You might have heard about cases where a 50-year-old man posed as a 16-year-old girl/boy and cheated/blackmailed people. There are potential risks like morphing, stalking, threatening, etc. that happens in such instances. You could even unknowingly share private information that could be misused in one way or other.

Always think twice before you share/post online. Photos that are shared online can be retrieved even after deletion. Do not post anything you are not comfortable with others seeing. If talking to someone makes you nervous or uncomfortable you can simply stop talking to them and block them. However, if you feel that you are in any kind of danger or if anyone is blackmailing or bullying you, reach out for help/support.

This is a situation which is more common than you might think. You would have felt comfortable with sending a private photo to someone you love. Later, for some reason or the other, they might blackmail you with it to get something in return. Do not panic and do not give into threats. Giving into threats can only make things worse. Be calm and try to reason with the other person.
If nothing seems to work, don’t be scared to ask for help. Remember that thousands of individuals go through such situations on a daily basis and most of them are adults. If adults themselves require help in such situations, how can children be expected to take care of themselves? Go to a trusted adult or police for help. It is natural for children to be scared of parents’ reaction upon hearing this. You might be scared of them putting restrictions on you. Trying to solve this on your own may lead to much bigger problems. Your trusted adult will always try to help you out of the situation. They can do things you cannot do alone. They can help you make a complaint with the cyber police or, alternatively, to report it to the respective social media platforms if your images are being shared without your consent.
If the other person is blackmailing you or sharing your photos, take screenshots of such activities/chats so that they can be used as evidence. Almost all social media platforms require you to give screenshots as proof while reporting accounts.

Cyber bullying is basically bullying that happens on digital platforms. It can take place on social media, messaging platforms, gaming platforms and mobile phones. It is a repeated behaviour, aimed at scaring, angering or shaming those who are targeted. It might be hard to ignore these comments and move past it but try to do it anyway. Do not let it affect your self-confidence or self-esteem. Remember that the people who bully or put others down have their own insecurities that they try to project in this way. Anonymous cyber bullies who take pleasure in putting others down from behind the safety of their screens are probably people dealing with their own issues within themselves.

Someone facing cyber bullying would need all the support they can get. Reach out for support. Report the account(s) of the person(s) that are cyber bullying you after taking screenshots of the comments. If the bullying is making you feel low, save the evidence, block them out and take a break from social media and internet. Indulge yourself in other hobbies, especially healing ones like nature walks, painting, arts, sports, reading and gardening, etc. Spend time with friends, family and people who value you and make you feel good. If you feel anxious or depressed let your parents or a trusted adult know. Try to open up about how you feel and ask for professional mental health support if you need it to.

The internet can be a very interesting place but it also has a dangerous side to it. There are certain safe practices that one must follow when using the internet. There are a lot of potential threats and dangers lurking in the online world like bullying, identity theft, digital kidnapping, morphing, grooming, sex trafficking, etc.

Hearing about the various incidents happening online, parents might be strict about internet usage in ways that they feel will keep you safe. However, if you feel that these rules are too restrictive, let them know what steps you will take regarding online safety. Let them into your online spaces, so that they know that they can trust you to be safe. Also let them know that you will keep them informed in case of undue incidents online.

Just as a lioness would protect her cub, your parents are trying to keep you safe in the online world. If you feel that they are violating your privacy, convey it to them. Ask them to trust you and let them know that you are following all the online safety rules. Keep in mind that even if you say and do these things they would still be concerned about your safety and would probably want to know what is happening in your life. Try to have an open and honest relationship with your parents. Approach them if you are ever in trouble and ask them about safe online practices. Instead of pushing them out completely, let them be a part of your life so that the trust will be built gradually. Slowly they will also learn to let go as they trust you.

It is illegal for all persons, including persons below the age of 18 years, to send inappropriate photos of himself or herself to children below the age of 18 years. Do not delete it immediately as it is important to save the evidence, if you are to report the incident. Be confident that the law is on your side. Inform it to your parents or a trusted adult. Let them take matters in their hands. Handover or lock the evidence away so that it does not trigger unpleasant emotions in you.

In the meantime, try not to think about the photo and engage yourself in other activities. Take a break from social media and spend time with your friends and family. It might help to talk about it with a friend who understands you. Try to distance yourself from the incident and do not let the experience define your future. Remember that these things happen to a lot of people. You are not alone. Tell yourself that this did not happen due to your fault. It was the fault of the person who shared it.

You can prevent inappropriate pop-ups by changing the settings in your web browser. The steps might vary from browser to browser so you can do a basic google search to learn how to block pop-ups. Having a good anti-virus software can also prevent pop-ups. Take help from your parents or other adults if it seems too technical and complicated.

In case your social media account has already been hacked, do not panic, there are ways to resolve it.

  • Report to the respective social media platform immediately.
  • Change your password and select the option of logging out from all devices.
  • Put up a status or message notifying all your friends/contacts stating that the account has been hacked.
  • If you have any other accounts with the same password as the hacked account, change the passwords of those as well.
  • Check whether any new app has been downloaded on your device and if so, remove them.
  • After doing these steps you can continue to use your social media account while adhering to the safety rules mentioned above.

If you feel that you use the internet/social media compulsively and for excessive periods and this usage is hindering you from doing the other things in your life, you might be dealing with an internet or social media addiction. This addiction can affect many aspects of your life like your studies, friendships, relationship with your family and even your health.

  • It is always better to prevent yourself from getting addicted than dealing with addiction. To prevent yourself from getting addicted to the internet/social media follow these practices:
    Set boundaries and time limits for usage.
  • Do not spend more than 2 hours a day for on-screen leisure activities. Using it continuously for a long period can be harmful for the brain. Therefore, take a 10-minute break after every 40 minutes of use.
  • Do not use screens for an hour before bedtime. Using screens just before bedtime can cause sleep disturbance and sleep deprivation. You need proper rest and sleep.
  • Switch the internet/mobile data off at night.
  • Include other activities that you like into your routine so that you would not get bored and start using the internet.

If you want to overcome internet/social media addiction:

  • Take a break from social media and the internet for at least 14-21 days.
  • Lock away non-productive social media apps.
  • Once you decide to use them again, set time limits for usage.
  • Install apps that would lock you out from social media after a particular time.
  • Use apps that help in productive spaces online/offline, like mindfulness, calendar, etc.
  • Block unnecessary communications and turn off notifications.
  • Archive unnecessary messages and groups or exit from them
  • Modify your routine. If you have the habit of checking your phone the moment you wake up or right before you sleep, stop yourself from doing that. Read a book right before you sleep and listen to some music. This is also a great way to unwind from the day. Greet your family or have a cup of tea or coffee or do some yoga or take a run/walk in the morning to refresh yourself.
  • Connect to nature, go for walks, involve in hobbies, physical activities and healing activities like mindfulness.
  • Seek the help of your family and friends to support you in this.
  • Track your progress regularly so that you would not slip back into the habit.
  • You can block all the pornography websites on your gadgets.
  • Delete all pornographic videos that you have in your gadgets and messaging platforms.
  • Exit from WhatsApp or other social media groups in which pornographic content is shared with you.
  • Get involved in physical activities like sports, walking etc.
  • Seek help from friends and family if you are unable to deal with it yourself. Sometimes you might need to talk to a professional to be able to break free. Be open to talk freely about your feelings and fears to the professional.
  • Distance yourself from the thought of watching pornography by engaging in other activities.
  • Restrict yourself from using your phone or laptop if you fear that you might get tempted to watch it.
  • There are sites and further information on our blog ( on dealing with addiction in these spaces.

Remember that it is not easy to overcome any kind of addiction, so be gentle and patient with yourself through the process.

This is known as cyber stalking. Though this may seem like merely a nuisance, it is actually a criminal offence in India when done against women after she has clearly indicated a disinterest. This affects the privacy of a person just as much as real life stalking does and also makes them feel insecure about their safety.
Facebook/Meta and Instagram allows you to block a profile and similar profiles created by the same person. In addition to blocking him/her you can also report the account. This can lead to disabling of his/her account(s). You can also file a cyber complaint with the police if the stalking does not stop. Seek the help of an adult to do this.

  • You can follow certain safe practices to avoid the problems associated with cyber stalking, including theft of your personal information.
    Log out of all social media or other accounts from the devices which may be accessed by other people.
  • Keep strong passwords and two-factor authentication.
  • Do not share your password with anyone, even your closest friend or relative.
  • Ensure that you do not share any private information about yourself or your loved ones online.
  • Accept friend requests and follow requests only from people you know.
  • Ensure that your privacy setting allows only your friends to view your posts/stories.

Tell your friend directly that you prefer not to have your picture on social media. If they are your good friends and respect your wishes they will take it down.
If your friend is still not understanding there is not much you can do but to tell him/her to respect your wishes and privacy. You can also report the photo if you want. You also have the option of untagging yourself from the photo if you do not want strangers to know your identity.

Report to the social media platform and get their help in deleting the photo/image. All social media platforms allow you to delete photos that you have already posted. Even this feature has its weaknesses. After you send a photo, the other person can take a screenshot or, in case of iPhone users, the photo can be saved to the gallery. In these cases, there is no way to prevent it from being viewed and shared by the other person. Therefore, it is always best not to share your compromising photos, even to those persons that you trust the most. Publishing compromising photos of minors/children is an offence under the Information Technology Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. You can make a complaint with the cyber police with the help of an adult. The police can make a request to these platforms asking them to take the photos down. You may report it to the respective social media platforms if your images are being shared without your consent. In such cases, try to take screenshots of such activities so that they can be used as evidence.

Grooming is the way in which a probable predator takes into confidence a possible victim and, sometimes, their family members, for the purpose of using the victim for their needs, most likely abusing them or for sexual needs and sometimes, even for trafficking. Online grooming is when individuals are targeted online with the same purpose in mind. The abuser will try to gain the trust of the individual through friendship and relationship and over time leverage this trust to blackmail/use them.

Online grooming can happen anywhere. In the case of children, abusers will try to go to sites which are more popular with children. They may pose as children themselves or as trustworthy adults. They will try to establish “friendships” through online gaming chat boxes or through social media. People who groom individuals need not necessarily be strangers. They can even be persons known to the victims.

Paedophiles and child abusers may use these set of tactics to sexually exploit children. These tactics could include:

  • Providing unnecessary and extra care, attention, and support to vulnerable children.
  • Pretending to be in love with them and luring them into relationships.
  • Understanding their weaknesses and vulnerabilities and using these to gain their trust.
  • Subsequently, exploiting such trust to change the concept of ‘good and moral behaviours’ in children to sexually exploit them.
  • Getting children to share compromised images or creating such images without their knowledge.

Even if your compromised images have been shared, do not let ugly minds define your life ahead. Millions of such images are uploaded daily and thousands of people who have gone through similar situations have moved on and are leading better lives. The most important thing to remember is not to be frightened and never to give into threats. Always reach out for support when you need it. Remember that there are more people to support you than that you are led to believe.
Though the world and the internet can be beautiful spaces, there are some people who can make it bad. Follow online safety rules, especially the one about not meeting strangers/online friends alone. Never share anything which someone can use against you or someone close to you. If someone genuinely loves you, they wouldn’t ask you to share compromised images that might cause problems later in your life since everything posted online has a risk of being displayed. If the love/friendship is genuine, no one will make you do something which makes you uncomfortable. Try to read the news and learn about how adults and children fall into traps like these.
For more information on this topic, please watch ‘Online Predators’ and ‘Cyber Safety’ videos available in Bodhini Kochi YouTube channel.

Lot of times, chating with strangers through chat rooms, social media have led to offline meeting. There are instances, where this offline meeting has led to the individual being raped, used, blackmailed, murdered or driven to suicide by the online friend. It is best not to encourage relationships/friendships over the internet as there are predators deliberately setting traps to groom individuals for their needs. Very often they are not who they claim to be.
Please watch short film “Online predators” on our YouTube channel ‘Bodhini Kochi’ for information on the same.

There are certain dangers when you make purchases for games. People can steal your financial information and commit frauds using them. Do not link your own or your parents’ credit/debit card information to any app or games without their permission. Your money could get debited for in-app purchases, which will get reflected in your account only after the money has been charged. If money has already been debited from your or your parents’ or anyone else’s account, inform your parent/ the person immediately. They might be able to contact the bank and stop the amount from being debited again. Fix a limit on how much money you will spend online for games. Ensure that you are paying money only through a secure gateway. If it is not a trusted site, do not make any payments. If it is not a safe site, there is a risk of others accessing your bank account to steal your money using the information that you provide. If you are making purchases, make sure your bank asks for some verification like OTP (One Time Password) before authenticating payment.

Gaming accessories are also used to foster online grooming in some cases. This could lead to boys/girls being used sexually or blackmailed for money or bring trafficked.