Muscat: Taking an interest in their child’s activities will help parents recognise if their child is being blackmailed, and enable them to advise their children on how to tackle online bullying.
The Gulf Health Council, the body of the Gulf Cooperation Council that deals with spreading awareness over good physical and mental health, has provided advice for parents on how they can help their child avoid and recognise blackmailers online.
How to find out if your child is being blackmailed
“If you wish to find out if your child is being blackmailed, sit them down and talk to them in a nice manner,” advised the Gulf Health Council (GHC). “Listen to them intently, and review what has happened to them, so that they do not repeat their actions in future.
“Do not get nervous, and try to not make the child feel guilty…do not threaten them either,” added the body. “Report the incident of blackmail to the cybercrime unit in your country, and make a note of the platform that was used to blackmail the child.”
Through what platforms can children face electronic blackmail?
Electronic blackmail has several forms. Children may be blackmailed through electronic games or social media platforms.
Blackmailing may take many forms, including emotional blackmail, attempting to request photos and videos of the victim so that they can be used to threaten him/her, forcing them to perform unethical tasks, or attempts to extract personal information from them, added the GHC.
“The blackmailer uses this as currency against the child, and makes use of them as leverage to manipulate their feelings, control them, extort material goods from them, or coerce them into transferring money to their name,” advised the council.
“It is important to remember that those who commit blackmail may not necessarily be adults…they may be under the age of 18 as well.”
How to protect your child from blackmail
Parents are required to show interest in their children’s activities and check the age ratings of electronic games they play, before buying them.
“Be aware of all the platforms being used online, and get to know about the people with whom your child communicates,” said the GHC. “Activate the parental control feature on your child’s device…there are steps that can be taken to ensure your child plays online safely.
“Make your child aware of how to use the devices they handle,” added the organisation. “Determine specific times during which they are allowed to use their electronic devices, and explain why these timings are being set for them.”
What can your child share online?
Specify to your child what he can share over the internet…make sure no personal photos, or photos or videos of an indecent nature are shared online, irrespective of whether your child is communicating with his friends, relatives, or strangers.
Alert your child to the importance of privacy and the necessity to keep private information such as mobile numbers or other sensitive data related to people in the household.
Blackmail is considered a crime, and a child who is being blackmailed must communicate this to their parents immediately so that this can be solved.