Many young people may have taken their first steps into the online world of messaging or social media after receiving a new device for Christmas. This is an exciting time, but one that can also bring unhappiness, bullying and possible exploitation if the young person is not aware or prepared for the choices they may have to make.
What we have to make sure is that all young people understand that real life lessons apply. What is not right in the school playground or in the street, is still not right in the digital world. Young people need to remember to not give out personal information or send images. Both these sorts of behaviours can aid others in bullying or grooming the people identified.
What is now available to young people through the internet and connectivity is an eye on the world that will show all its beauty and wonder as well as its darker sides. Young people need to be confident they can cope with what’s available. They need to have the resilience to resist temptation, and the understanding about making good choices. The need to conform to expectations is very powerful, but just because it is on line it is not always true or what is actually happening in that person’s real life.
It is not just Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Yellow to name a few that pose opportunities and dangers, it is also online gaming that opens up a world outside of the child’s house.
- Talk to your child about their digital use
- Be aware of the types of things they do online and who they are ‘talking to’ online
- Limit screen time and encourage or make them be online in a family shared space
- Make sure parental controls are enabled and that where possible children are using the children’s version of the app, to try and help protect them from unsuitable content
- Be aware of age limits for content, games, social media and other digital content
- Talk about healthy relationships, positive body image, bullying as well as online shopping.
Niall Crawford is an education adviser with Services for Education specialising in safeguarding, e-safety and CSE.