Acting Director of the Department of Probation and Child Protection Services, Gerald Connor. SKNIS Photo.

Acting Director of the Department of Probation and Child Protection Services, Gerald Connor urged parents and guardians in St. Kitts and Nevis to pay attention to the online presence of their children to ensure that they are not being exposed to harmful content that may lead to issues such as depression, truancy, drug abuse, antisocial behaviour and a host of other challenges.

Connor highlighted the issue of parental supervision on Wednesday’s edition of the “Working for You” programme.

Conner acknowledged the difficulties of keeping track of digital footprints, particularly for those parents who have technological phobia, are overextended trying to make a living, or are otherwise distracted.

“Parents need to remember that we live in an [era] where things develop quickly and children are more open-minded to technology … and that is one of the things that allows them to manoeuvre around their parents who are not so technologically sound,” Connor explained. “Some parents will tell you ‘oh I can’t handle laptop, I can’t handle this, I can’t handle that,’ but it is for you to understand those things to keep up with what your children are doing, otherwise they are going to run circles around you.”

While devices such as smartphones, smart televisions and video game consoles have parental control functions, Connor said it is important for parents to develop and maintain close relationships with their children.

“You find that a lot of reasons why a lot of children end up leaning towards other individuals is because of a lack of relationship, lack of understanding between them and their parents,” he said, noting that this can lead some to join gangs or form other unhealthy relationships which might have been avoided with strict parental supervision and expressions of love at home.

“Parents need to understand we (the Department of Probation and Child Protection Services) are not taking up your responsibility. Our department is basically to help you get back your responsibility and get you back in charge of your household,” Mr. Connor said.