Online Safety for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
by Neerja Anand
On 02 August, 2021
“Privacy is not an option, and it shouldn’t be the price we accept for just getting on the Internet." - Quote by Gary Kovacs, a technologist.
The wonderful World Wide Web is such a delightful space to explore. It offers unlimited sources of entertainment, learning, expertise, and more at out fingertips. It does, however, come with cons due to accessibility. With children spending an increasing amount of time on electronic devices, whether for education or passing time, it is imperative that family members are cautious and take precautions for the safety of their loved ones.
Here are some suggestions on ensuring Online Safety for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum:
Ensure all electronic devices are set up with limitations on the type of content they can access. This means adjusting the device’s settings as well as the internet browser or on any application that allows access to the internet.
Have open conversations with the child on what is appropriate and what is not. These are important as it will help them to differentiate between appropriate and non - appropriate content to view.
Be specific to the child about the content/information that is not to be posted or shared with anyone online. Make a visual chart of the same that can be viewed by the child.
Educate your child as often as required on the topic of interacting with strangers on various platforms. Ensure that the child is aware that anyone can post a picture but it may not be the person in real life. Explain it in child language using examples, “Joe, you can post a picture of a bunny, are you a bunny in real life?” Let them know that online conversations are to be handled with extreme caution as not everyone is what they appear to be online.
Conduct due diligence online at your end. Regularly scan the devices for content, chats, Etc.
Establish rules and boundaries with the child early on and reiterate the same regularly. Let the child know you will be monitoring the internet usage and what your expectations are. Pen down these dos and don'ts in the form of an informal contract. Let them know the consequences of not adhering to the contract terms. For example, all passwords should be known to you, and they cannot change the password without informing you.
Participate in their online activities such as games, etc., and learn about their interests. Be an internet buddy so that the bonds become deeper.