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Tips to use the internet safely by Dr. Avinash Desouza

Dr. Avinash De Sousa, Consultant Psychiatrist and Consultant Psychotherapist on how you can navigate the World Wide Web and still be safe....

Dr. Avinash Desouza is a Psychologist who works extensively with teens and helps them tackle one a too many of their teenage issues.

We got in touch with Dr. Desouza and asked him to shed some light on the use of internet and how to steer clear of its disadvantages.

Here is what he had to say about using the internet safely...

TT: How can one be safe and still use internet optimally?

Avinash Desouza:

The internet today is a necessity and I love the internet just as much as you do. The whole aim is to learn to use the internet in a way such that it is beneficial to you and not the other way round.

You might chat with people on social media, you might use certain sites to post photos, but it is important to be extremely careful while you do that.

Often we love to get as many friends on Social Media as we can, I might gain 800 to 1000 friends on Social Media but how many of them do I actually know in my real life and how many of them are actually worth knowing. Sometimes in our bid to get more friends we tend to accept every request that comes our way. It is however important that we carefully choose our friends on social media because we are opening up our personal lives to this large so called “friend circle”.

TT: What is Internet addiction and how to steer clear of it?

Avinash Desouza:

While social media brings us closer to our friends from around the world; sometimes it can get so addictive that we tend to get so hooked on to it that we move away from our families. We might end up ignoring people around us when we are busy chatting away on social media.

The internet is lovely because we learn, we share, we grow – but it is the time we devote to internet that matters. I have seen in my practice, teens who devote 4 and more hours to internet every day and as a result their personal lives suffer. Their personal relationships with their parents and friends go downhill.

So it is important that you teens use the internet for your benefit and don’t allow yourselves to get addicted to it.

TT: Your thoughts about chatting online and authentic information sharing?

Avinash Desouza:  

When you use the internet for chatting, it is important to know who you are chatting with. Often we tend to blindly trust the information we get online – the information could be with regard to health, with regard to friends, with regard to people we know little about.

It is important to doubly check the information you consume on the net as it could be fake. It is important to check if the source of that information is authentic and only then use that information.

This is also crucial when you are chatting with someone online and you don’t know them completely. Don’t just trust the information they give you about themselves.

Make sure you don’t share personal information like where you stay, what your parents do, who your friends are, who you are, your credit card details, because someone can misuse this information and damage you in the long run.

TT: The pros of internet...

Avinash Desouza:

It is important to be careful with your personal information on the internet but at the same time, please use the internet to gain knowledge. It is important that you learn about different cultures, different countries, and about the various aspects of India using the net. You must use the internet to enhance your knowledge and build your careers.

I have had cases in the past where teens have told me that they started liking someone online and it all went fine till the other person started stalking them and blackmailing them using their photographs. I have seen often that these relationships born online end rather sadly.

TT: What is your take on online relationships?

Avinash Desouza:

These days, everything is available online. It may happen that you end up liking someone you met online. That liking might even develop into love and that might progress into a wonderful relationship. But it is equally important that you don’t get too emotionally engrossed in those relationships that may have real meaning in your real life.

If you must profess love to someone online, make sure you have met them in person. It is important that you take care online so you never end up becoming a victim of online abuse.

I have had cases in the past where teens have told me that they started liking someone online and it all went fine till the other person started stalking them and blackmailing them using their photographs. I have seen often that these relationships born online end rather sadly.

I wouldn’t want to generalise; I’m sure there are some fruitful relationships that may have come of the internet but I don’t want you teens to get hurt.

So I suggest you play it safe online. Trust people only after you have met them in person.

Hope these tips about safe use of internet will help you navigate through the world wide web safely and you will be able to benefit from it.

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10 questions about sex that you might not ask your parents

Rajan Bhonsle, sexologist, MD, debunks several myths surrounding sexuality
Ritika SrivastavaTeentalkindia Counsellor

Why do parents feel uncomfortable talking about sex?

  • They themselves usually have had no sex education as children.
  • They have learnt that sex is too dirty a word to be verbalised.
  • They are simply afraid that they might not have all the right answers and correct vocabulary.
  • It is hard for them to accept that their children are sexual.
  • Some fear possible sexual feelings between their children and themselves.

Is there an appropriate age when individuals should start talking or understanding sex and sexuality?

Answering children’s questions about sex is one of the responsibilities many parents dread the most. Childhood is a period of utter innocence, but for adults sex is not so innocent a subject. Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • From the very infancy children have a curiosity about their bodies, which is absolutely normal and healthy.
  • It is best to start as soon as children begin getting sexual messages. They start getting them as soon as they are born.
  • The most important thing is to be open and available whenever a child wants to talk.
  • By the time a child is three years of age, parents must choose to use the correct anatomical words for all body parts including the genitals. The words – penis and vagina- should be shared matter-of-factly.
  • Children between three to six years of age are most trusting of their parents. At around age 5, you can actively begin to introduce books that deal with sexuality on a developmentally appropriate level.

Does talking about sex at an early age provoke or encourage kids to become sexually active early in their life?

Children make better decisions about sex when there are no restrictions on what they can ask and talk about home and when they have all the necessary information they need. This helps prevent possible sexual abuse, incest and sexual harassment at work as they are empowered to stop it, freely talk about it and report it immediately.

What are some of the values adolescents need to know about having sex?

The emphasis is on creating a generation of young adults who have a healthy attitude towards sex based on scientific understanding of this natural instinct for the continuity of life. Here are some pointers to keep in mind:

  • Sexuality is a natural and normal part of human life
  • Young people explore their sexuality as a natural process of achieving sexual maturity.
  • Individuals and society benefit when children are able to discuss sexuality uninhibitedly with trusted adults such as parents, family doctors, teachers and educators.
  • All sexual decisions have effects and consequences
  • Premature indulgence in sexual behaviour poses risks.

When should girls be introduced to the concept of periods?

Eight to twelve that is pre-teens is the age of sexual awakening. Girls need to know about menstruation. Preparing girls about getting periods before they get one is mandatory, as it makes them physically and emotionally ready even in the absence of any help.

What are some of the things you must know before you decide to lose your virginity?

It can result in damage to the reproductive system as the body may still be in the process of maturing. Sexually transmitted diseases are the greatest hazard in sexual experimentation. Also, sexual relationships should never be compelling, exploitative or lead to physical or psychological harm. Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • STDs including HIV can be transmitted through exchange of body fluids, which includes any form of penetrative intercourse, and even other acts such as oral sex and deep kissing
  • Condoms or any female contraceptive is not 100 per cent safe.
  • If you get pregnant you need to consider whether to continue the pregnancy or terminate it.

What are wet dreams?

Boys/men sometimes release semen during sleep. This is commonly known as wet dreams, nightfall or nocturnal emission. It is a normal, natural and uncontrollable response to sexual tension that gets built up within the body.
At the age of 12-13, the testes in boys start producing sperms. At this age boys start developing sexual attraction and start discharging semen during sleep. There is no reason to feel worried, frightened or guilty about a wet dream. It happens with all boys/men and is not a disease.

What is the white liquid that comes out?

When you reach puberty, you may start noticing that a different fluid spurts out of the erect penis if you got sexually excited. It appears milky in colour and is sticky. This is semen. The sexual pleasure that you experience when you come is called orgasm or climax. The squirting of the semen is called ejaculation. The sticky transparent fluid that oozes out of the penis before ejaculation is called ‘pre-ejaculate’ or ‘pre-cum.’ Pre-cum can contain sperms and can cause pregnancy.

Women who experience orgasms during sleep usually have them several times a year.

Is masturbation good?

It is a physiologically harmless activity. Contrary to common beliefs, it is not a hazardous, corrupt or sinful activity either for men or for women. It is natural and normal. As a matter of fact, it is a safe and simple method of relieving sexual tension. However, the feeling of guilt, shame, worry, and conflict associated with masturbation can be detrimental to one’s emotional health and self-esteem. There is no numerical safety limit to how many times in a day a person should or can practice masturbation. It is a matter of concern only when masturbation becomes a continuous preoccupation and is so frequent that it significantly starts interfering with other aspects of the person’s life.

Some people do not want to masturbate for cultural, religious or even personal reasons. This is absolutely fine too. If one is not comfortable with masturbation, one can still have a normal, healthy and gratifying sex life.

What are the effects of watching porn?

Research has shown that pornography and its messages are involved in shaping attitudes and encouraging behaviour that can harm individuals and their families. Pornography is often viewed in secret, which creates deception within marriages that can lead to even divorce in some cases. The general content of pornography supports abuse and the rape myth (that women enjoy forceful sex) and serves as a how to for sex crimes.

Watching porn can become an addiction. It progresses through the following four stages:

1.Addiction: Pornography provides a powerful sexual stimulant or aphrodisiac effect, followed by sexual release, most often through masturbation.

2.Escalation: Over time, addicts require more explicit and deviant material to meet their sexual needs.

3.Desensitisation: What was first perceived as gross, shocking and disturbing, in time becomes common and acceptable.

4.Acting out sexually: There is an increasing tendency to act out behaviours viewed in pornography.

Some excerpts in the interview are taken from Dr Rajan Bhonsle’s book, The Complete Book of Sex Education.

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