Encouraging Online Safety
Let’s start by acknowledging what a wonderful aide the internet can be to education, family time, communication and entertainment. When reading the list below it is worth bearing in mind that 44% of teenagers take their phones to bed and use them during the night.
Fegans would list the risks and dangers of the internet as the following:
Learning about attraction is part of growing up….. we all went through it, whether experimenting with short skirts and makeup or spending a fortune on Clearasil products and stealing cigarettes to smoke them on the back of the school bus. Pushing boundaries is a part of growing up.
We all had to be taught not to talk to strange men and not to accept lifts or sweets from strangers. We also often had to learn how to deal with bullies and even how not to give in to pressure for sex.
None of these potential threats are new in themselves, but smartphones have added some powerful new elements into the mix which parent need to grasp in order to make their kids resilient in the online world.
Sexting has become so common among young people, and has caused so much anxiety and depression when things have gone wrong, that the Home Office have started a national drive called “Disrespect Nobody” to raise awareness and to help young people recognise the dangers.
Social Media Bullying
Bullying via social media (“cyberbullying) is particularly pernicious because it is public, and relentless, often continuing throughout the day and night, including outside of term-time. Common messages include “hurt yourself.”
The average age that boys and girls first see pornography is 11. 88% of pornography involves some form of violence towards women. Our children are at risk of being exposed to sexual violence and developing copycat expectations at an incredibly early age.
Online grooming: Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC recently described the internet as “A playground for paedophiles.”
18-rated games are routinely played by 12 and 13 years olds. The imagery and desensitising nature of this cannot be over emphasised, nor can the risk of addiction and exposure to online groomers. We have touched on cyberbullying and online grooming there are positive aspect to online gaming if you turn it into a family affair. Family Gamer TV/ has an entire website and youtube channel dedicated to helping parents do exactly this.
This is just a brief overview of a huge subject. If you are interested in a short minicourse on social media please click on the link below.
If you have been affected by anything in this article please contact:
In the US:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
National Hopeline Network 1-800-784-2433)
In the UK
The Samaritans 116 123
Childline 0800 1111