Monday, December 19, 2011

Save children from cyber crimes

The debate raised by the statement of the telecom minister seems to be settling down with a feeling that the government does not intend to censor social networking sites. This can be called a welcome move by most of the people who advocate the freedom of expression and speech. But the question that arises here is regarding the extent of  freedom. Do the people have the right to say and write anything they want even though it may be derogatory to others? All, whether using social networking sites or print media should realize to self regulate and follow the idea of live and let live and not only live in context of self. Let us leave the broader issue of the social networking sites and think about what is the right age to express the views in the public? Should it also be decided as we have the minimum age to obtain driving license or have a voting right? This seems to be a slightly tricky and confusing question but it does need to be deliberated upon and then reach to a decision. In the first instance, it appears as there can be any age decided for this because even a newly born child should have the freedom of expression and if it is so then the people of other age group are also free to express their views. But do the parents at home and teachers in the school not expect and teach their children to have sympathy and healthy feelings for others in the family and the society? Do they not teach their children to extend a helping hand to   the ones who need the help? Is it good to display humour which humiliates others? Should the people be not dignified in expressing their views for anything they think differently? There are many more such questions which should be discussed and answered. The platform available to the people should be such that it does not become the means to propagate hatred in the society. Many people might argue that all human beings are matured enough and they have a right to think and speak as they feel. True, but it may not be so for all and especially in case of the kids. If all views are to be expressed freely then why should there be cyber crime branch to tackle such issues? Why a former minister should be filing a report in the police for an email received by him which is treated as abusive and vulgar.
We all know that the children, as small as the age of seven or eight years are using the internet and social networking sites. They are the most vulnerable lot to wrong doings of the people misusing this platform to lure the impressionable mind and then victimizing them. There have been number of cases in the other countries in which the children have been driven to situation when they are forced to take extreme steps. Some children have lost their life because of the problem faced by them due to the invasion into their life by the criminals using cyber media. This has been attributed to the reasons because the children are at times alone and the parents and the teachers are not able to know about the problem faced by the child. If the children are bullied or pressurized by some person in the real life, the parents can come to know about the same and help the children though it may not be possible all the time. But in case of the cyber crime even the parents and the teachers do not come to know the problem faced by their children. The cyber crime branches have been setup in most of the countries by the government but this comes into picture when some case is reported. By the time a case is reported, maximum harm to the child is already done. In USA and other countries, the parents are being made aware of the problems which their children might face because of the cyber space criminals in regard to the safety of their children. In our country most of the parents and the teachers find themselves not fully equipped to tackle such problems and help their children and that is one of the reasons that most of the cases are not reported. By the time the parents and the teachers realize about the problem it is already too late and the child finds it very difficult to come out of the shock.
 We know it very well that it is almost impossible to stop such incidents but the parents and the teachers should make themselves aware of the problems their children might face. If they can anticipate about the problems then there is a possibility that they can help their children and protect them from such evil happenings. The parents and teachers should be as close to their children as possible without intruding too much in their life so that the children could be warned of the problems and the danger of going too far in disclosing their personal information to the unknown person on the websites. They should not be encouraged to interact with the people of unknown identity. The young children do get influenced by the heroic acts and thoughts of the people who may even not be known to them. The role of the parents has become more important because the children are exposed to lot many things which at times might prove detrimental to the safety and security of the children. They should share their thoughts and the feelings with their children. The children should also be talked about the possible dangers of their being so much exposed on the internet. The parents and teachers should work together to ensure safe and smooth growth of the children. If anything unusual is noticed the same should be paid attention and if required, an immediate positive interference is very important. This should not be taken as the interference in the personal life but an important responsibility of the parents and the teachers to save the life of the children.A united and consistent effort by all the stakeholders will ensure a safe existence of our own children.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Should social networking sites be censored?

The proposed initiative by the union communication and IT minister to put the social networking sites under the scanner has raised heated debate through out the country. The government is worried due to the misuse of these sites by some perturbed minded individuals who use them to play with the emotions of the people. The government and the people of the country will have to think seriously before forming their opinion regarding the use and misuse of these sites. Some people are calling it as the attack on the freedom of expression and there is another group who endorse the idea of the minister as to be a step thought of in the right direction. The arguments given by both the sides seem to be correct from their perspective and that is the reason we should be very careful and control our emotions before criticizing others. We have a right to express our views but at the same time the other people are also equally eligible and free to express their views. Sometimes we get so much blinded by our own thoughts that others point of view does not remain within our reach. Let us try to understand it in context of our education and the rights and duties defined for the people in the constitution of the country.
We are proud of the vision of our forefathers who envisaged such a wonderful and elaborate constitution which is appreciated by all nations of the world. The balance drawn between the rights and duties is so clear and written in such a beautiful way that all the pillars of the society are free to work without interfering in the functioning of the others. This has been working effectively and the people of the country enjoyed their rights as given by the constitution. The upsurge of the communication through electromagnetic waves, specially the Internet, has brought the people of the country and the world very close to each other. This was welcomed by all and even those who were not very comfortable with the use of the technology. Over a period of time, I feel, this has taken over the other aspects of communication and the interaction with the people. In this age of  machines, the emotions and sentiments of life were left behind and now it seems to have been further lost because of the onslaught of too much information at the click of a button. Earlier the people of the country used to discuss and debate upon various issues face to face and then take a decision based on the outcome of the debate. The feelings of each other were understood better then, than now. The use of Internet and other such mode is not always negative but at the same time the other side is also not true. Social networking sites seem to have brought people closer but the fact is that they have been driven further away physically. The use of different kinds of words for the children and the youth of the country has not done much of good to them and the nation. I do not understand why children and the youth should not be allowed to grow in a natural environment than exposing them to so many artificial things in the form of machines or gizmos. All know it well why these social networking sites came into existence. This is also clear that these were born in those countries where the people had been staying away from each other due to their social fabric. It was good for those people who were not able to see each other on regular basis even if this was a close family relationship. The small thing which was started by someone for his personal use now has become the means of interaction for the billions of the people around the globe. This is being used and enjoyed by all but at the same time people have been raising their voice against the negative impact of the same on the society at large and the children in particular. They have become addicted to such sites and the ill-effects of the same are very much visible to many of us. Those people who think this way may be labelled as conservative or someone who did not like the progress and the change. But we should not forget that if there are some uses of these social networking sites,there are certain drawbacks too. If there is no regulation for the same, this might prove to be very dangerous for the people of the country. Most of the parents and the teachers of the school going children are aware about the problems being faced by them. The mind of children is very pure but also get influenced by the external environment very quickly. The parents are struggling with the misuse of these sites which probably are not meant for the children of less than eighteen years of age. Though these sites can be used for the ulterior motives by the grown up people also and the government must ensure that this does not happen to avoid making the country susceptible to the danger of being driven towards  instability. I think some control (self or the external) is necessary to keep the things in the right direction. If it is not so then there is always a possibility of  disorder and chaos in the society. For instance,if water is given a free-flow or is untamed, then everyone knows that this can wipe out anything on its way. Similarly,the youth of the country is the powerhouse of energy and if the energy of the children and the youth is not directed properly there may be more problems and difficult situations created.
The government seems to be right while asking the social networking sites to self regulate themselves and filter the information which can be obscene and derogatory in terms of the language and hurt the feelings and the sentiments of other people. If something is shared by a small or large group of the people which does not use derogatory and  foul language, it should not be interfered with. The people are free to express their opinion but hurting the religious or social feelings of others should not be allowed and encouraged in the name of freedom of expression. All of us should understand and appreciate the views of others in an appropriate manner but the use of the language should be as dignified as possible. The government should also be clear and make people of the country believe that such control or restriction on the social networking sites will never be used for the benefit of an individual or the party or the government in power but for the good and safety of all the people and the country. Well defined boundaries should be drawn so that all know that the government did not take this step for the personal reasons but in the interest of the country. They should also define that how much is too much. The social networking sites have done a lot of good and the people should not be deprived of such platform from where they can portray their feelings and learn from each other in a more comfortable way. The social networking sites should evolve the ways in which abusive language or the things which hurt religious feelings and beliefs of people are censored and blocked. This may seem to be a difficult task today, but if tried that is seems possible because of the progress being made by the software and hardware wings of the engineers in this field. The government should also be very careful because excess of anything will have serious repercussions.The great physicist Albert Eintein once said,"Innovation is not the product of logical thought, although the result is tied to logical structure". How very true it is in this context. Only if the pros and cons are evaluated and a proper debate is held taking the views of the people from all walks of life,then a decision should be taken,accepting the change as an opportunity and ability to do better in future.  

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Is it good to learn too much too early?

Few days back when I was in a function and was talking to some friends while having food.when our attention was drawn by a child who was about four years of age and he was also having food on another table. He was quite free to talk to everyone around him whether known or unknown to him. Initially, I was impressed by the confidence and the behavior of the child and really wanted to talk to him about his family and the school he was studying in. I moved to his table and was about to talk to him when he asked me (without looking at me) to get some water for him. The waiter around so I asked him for water for the child. He brought a bottle of water and placed it on the table and the child immediately asked him to open the same. His parents were not around him but he was not bothered about anything. I stood there for a while and in the meantime the child finished his food and left the table without bothering about the used plate or the half filled water bottle left lying on the table. My enthusiasm to meet the child was cut short by his leaving the place even without looking at me. This made me think whether the child`s behavior and the action should be appreciated or something was not really right with him. I would like to share my opinion and then look forward for your feedback. Another question which triggered my thoughts was- if the children of the day had become too intelligent, too early with respect to their age? Or should we understand  that the schools are also responsible to make children learn or know certain things which are beyond their comprehension and  age? The other question that came to my mind was for certain activities which are done in the school to make the children aware about various concepts that do not seem age appropriate. One activity related to the mode of transport, was done for the children of the age group three to four years.  The teachers were very happy with the manner in which the activity was done and as per their thinking and the children also enjoyed the activity. But my worry is that, would the children of the age group mentioned above were mature enough to understand and comprehend the whole activity or was there really any need to teach them about the mode of transport ? Another activity done for the same age group was based on milk and milk products and how were these produced. This was practically done and shown to the children. This activity, to me, also seemed to be inappropriate for this age group. I must be corrected, if I am wrong.
The two examples stated above are the ones which make us to believe that our children are learning certain things and also are exposed to them,quite early in life. Also, the first example makes me to believe that the child was very confident who could eat food without the parents being around and could ask for  help from others wherever he needed that.  But my worry is his attitude. Being confident and self dependent is very good but then behavior with other people is also equally important. This boy was not bothered to look at the person to whom he was talking and also was not probably taught by the elders to say thanks to someone who had done something for him. He was also not taught to remove the used plates and keep them at the place specified for them. I think he was taught everything else but the dignity of labour and respect for the others perhaps was a miss somewhere. We should be careful while we teach our children etiquette and manners which make us feel proud in front of the relatives and the friends. As mentioned above, being confident and knowing things more than anybody else might be alright but knowing too much before time would not be good for the child in the long run. I guess that the child probably must have been flooded with all the facilities and he was not exposed to manage his own tasks and there must be many helping hands available to him at home that he did not learn the most basic thing of demeanour and that is courtesy. I am still not able to understand whether I should feel happy for the child or should be worried about his future.
In the other case, it has been found that the children are being forced to learn certain concepts which do not seem to be age appropriate. They might have felt happy because the activity was planned well but that activity would not have taught them to retain the concept for  future. The same activity could have been very good for the children of the age group of seven to eight years. Similarly, the other activity was also good for this age group. This should also be considered by the educators; what to teach and when to teach, so that the children learn it without any stress and are not forced to do the rote learning of remembering the things for the sake of doing that. The topics and the activities should be such that the same help the children as per the age group. The children who are in pre-primary classes should be exposed to more auditory and psycho motor activities. They should be made to learn to communicate in a more effective manner and the same should be done first in their own language and then in English, but they may not learn the language not spoken at home so easily,so consistent  efforts should be made. Though most of the public schools are English medium but that should not mean that the children should not be good at their own language. If they are good at the basic language, then I am sure they will learn the other language also,easily . For this, more of storytelling (which should be related to the things and the people around the children and not the ones from some other culture or the land) should be taken up in different ways. This I am talking in relation to the children of pre-primary schools. In the name of making them learn too much too early, irrelevant things should not be taught. The children should be exposed to good environment both at home and in the school. They should be left to learn naturally and all activities should be planned in a manner so that they even do not feel that some efforts are being made to teach them something different. This should be the part of their daily routine. The children in this age are really innocent and let us try our level best to keep that innocence intact for as long a period as possible. Let us make them learn to be confident and self reliant but at the same time the chapters on compassion,love,respect,honesty etc, should not be forgotten. This will help them become better human beings who would help the people around them and also others. Let the children learn the lesson of universal brotherhood and not of selfishness. The parents and teachers both can help the children in this endeavour to a great extent. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Concentrate on your strengths

This is the month of December which is known to us not with the help of the calendar but evidently by giving a close look at the faces of the school going students, specially the students who will appear in class XII board and other competitive examination. The faces have become slightly stressed and this is likely to escalate in the days and the months to come.The reason certainly is the fast approaching board exams that they write in the month of march. The parents of the children studying in class XII have restricted their outings for the functions of even close relatives because they feel that their child`s studies will get disturbed. The mothers always want to be with the child and motivate him /her to study hard. Every statement of advice has some impression in the mind of the child that this is the most important examination and if he /she performs well in that, then the life ahead will be very easy. Not only the parents, the school teachers are also giving the same kind of understanding to the children which seems to be alright in this world of competition. Not only this, the near and distant relatives also come and take part in this important and serious discussion that the child has to appear in the board examination and the future will depend upon the performance in this examination. All those who are concerned  for the children are getting stressed and this stress keeps on increasing every day.
At the same time, we come across those children also who despite being in the same situation are quite relaxed but focused. They are taking their studies seriously but at the same time not letting studies overpower them. Though the parents of such children are by and large happy with the efforts of their children but some of them also behave exactly in the same manner as the parents of the children discussed before. The difference between these two groups of the students is one and that is – those who are not much stressed have been studying well throughout the year while the other group has started feeling the burden of studies because they were not serious about the same till now. Those who were not regular and did not work as per the schedule will find themselves tensed and this tension may not do any good to them but further disturb and disrupt their studies. So this is very important for the teachers and the parents that the children are given positive environment at school and also at home. They should be guided and counselled so that they realize and understand their strengths because there is no fun in highlighting what went wrong in the past. That will further add to the already increasing stress. Some parents force their children to compensate for the loss of time in the past by increasing the study hours. This is genuine till it is done as per the potential of the child but if pressurized too much then it might prove counterproductive. So, the parents should take the things in such a manner so that the children do not feel let down though the same is because of their own fault for not having studied well from the beginning of the session.
The children still have about three months and all should try their level best so that they make proper use of the time left at their disposal. The time to talk about the shortcomings in the children or their pattern of studies is past and now all must concentrate only on the strengths of the children as per their individual potential. There should be no comparison with the performance of other children because that at times might have a negative effect. Individual child should be treated and handled individually and should be encouraged that he/she can do better. The most important thing is to build up the confidence of the children. Some people might find it difficult to apply in it all cases because still few students do not realize that they should study well. But the teachers and the parents should also realize that after all they are children and should be treated accordingly. They may not perceive the things as the teachers and parents do. I am happy to note many of the students are quite clear about their goals and they work accordingly to achieve the same. This could be possible due to the career counselling facility available to them. I always feel that career is important but at the same time the real learning related to the subject and also regarding life is equally important. There is no fun in choosing a career which gives you the materialistic gains and not the happiness. And happiness not only in the field of work which is applicable to all aspects of the life. The same applies to the learning process in the schools also. Some children feel that they are interested in one or more than one subject and hence they ignore them. This is not the right approach and they should understand that they will be examined in all the subjects. So they are advised to study those subjects also and with a positive frame of mind because if you want to develop interests in a subject, then first you have to force yourself to develop liking a few aspects and chapters of the same. This is true that all topics of a subject cannot be disliked by anybody though in totality the child might feel not interested in a particular subject. In this case, think and select those topics which you may like and learn more about them. Once you develop some interest in that topic you will find a change in your attitude towards that subject. Take a simple example from daily life. A doctor told the patient that he should stop having food which he liked the most and should eat something which he did not like at all. Initially, the patient was very uncomfortable with the same. He could manage not to eat something that he liked but had some problems in starting to eat the other food item. After a few months he was very comfortable with the food item he had started eating because of the doctor`s advice. Initially it might be difficult for some of the students but they will develop liking and interest in those subjects also by which they were by and large repelled. This is also understood that all topics of the same subjects may not be done so well as the other topic are read and comprehended.But,there has to be a beginning that will initiate an interested in a subject.
I would like to advise all the students that they should allow the stress to overpower them and their determination to do well (most of them are now determined to do well) and have faith and confidence in their ability. They must persevere hard (no substitute and escape from that) but should enjoy that hard work also. If done so they will definitely be able to learn and perform better than even their own expectations. Prepare a schedule for yourself and follow that religiously and not just for a show off to anybody at home or in the school. The parents and teachers can play a significant role in helping the children to exploit their potential up to optimum.Remember that yesterday is not ours to recover,but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.If you want the come out with the rainbow colours,you have to put-up with the rain and storm. So,work hard to design a better tomorrow,I wish all the children happy learning days ahead.