Children need to report online bullying, ROP

Muscat: Children spending time on virtual world with studies have been urged by the Royal Oman Police (ROP) to report any unusual approach from any corners to their parents immediately.

Be it a friendship request or a solicit to an evening outing or to venture out on a new idea, keep your parents in the loop before you even okay them, the official has said.

“Also, all children on social media should report any unpleasant experience or strange approach from anyone immediately before even they are trapped,” an official has said.

“This is applicable even if they are, by any chance, exposed to electronic blackmail or anything of that sort and no chidlren should share their or family’s private and personal photos over social media,” he added.

This statement is based on an incident in which the Police arrested a person on charges of blackmailing a girl and violating the Telecommunications Law. The perpetrator befriended the girl who spends much time on social media as part of her studies, online. Later, he collected her private photos and details of the family members and the like.

Statistics available with the the official IT sources show that in six months, 35 to 40 children were either convicted or victimised in cyber security crimes in Oman last year.

Mostly, children between 13 to 16 years are vulnerable to cybercrimes during the period and 22 cases were reported the previous year, according to the Oman’s IT statistical data. There were 27 extortion incidents, 3 fraud cases and 5 hacked accounts last year.

They are mostly prone to either phishing scams where their personal information from their computer has been stolen to bully them or identity theft scams, online harassment or cyberstalking or invasion of privacy.

“What parents and families should is to educate their children about the dangers of these behaviours and follow up their use of social media programmes to avoid falling prey in the vicious circle of electronic extortion.”