The on-line world can be an amazing place; research, learning new skills, games, videos, friendships and organising activities to name but a few! It can enrich our children’s lives greatly but like anything we enjoy, it brings associated risks. We want to raise awareness of the possible dangers our children face and provide a few suggestions to help reduce those risks.
We’ve all done it - searched for something perfectly innocent online and got more than we bargained for! You can also probably
think of an image you will never be able to get out of your mind. Well, our children are no different. While they are researching homework, on social media and watching YouTube videos all sorts
of images can pop up; everything from violence, bad language, sexual words or images to “guidance” on how to self-harm. The impact of seeing inappropriate material can be devastating and have
long term effects. Even seemingly innocent music videos (think Little Mix) or perfume adverts, for example, can expose children to over sexualised imagery, often reinforcing stereotypes i.e.
men in suits and women in…well not much! The problem comes when young people place similar photos on Instagram and Snapchat, or post videos on TikTok. Once on social media, all control of those
images is lost and anyone can copy, alter or share them, which unfortunately leads us onto our next concern.
The more time children spend on the internet, chat rooms and social media, the more at risk they are from cyber-bullying (covered in the next issue) and sexual predators. Children can be groomed online by a stranger or someone they know - they can be male or female and any age. Sadly, there has been a massive increase in the number of children involved in sexual activity on-line and there is a strong link between how early children are being exposed to pornography and the increase in sexualised behaviour. Children can walk into situations with their eyes wide open, not recognising grooming for what it is; they do not see themselves as victims. One of the reasons social media services require users to be 13+ is due to younger children not being able to discern what is appropriate to post, read or recognise when they are being targeted. In our visits to schools on average 25% of the 9-year-olds we see are already on social media.
So what steps can we take?
Add parental controls to your router which filter out pornography, bad language, gambling and other harmful content from devices connecting to your WIFI.
At our workshops parents often tell us that they are afraid of “messing about with their settings” but you can’t break it, so just have a play or google how to do it. Some mobile devices will have their own settings too but if you are concerned that these are not enough while your children are not using your WIFI we suggest an app like ScreenTime.
None of this of course is failsafe so the best defence is having conversations about on-line safety with our children, from a young age, as we would when teaching them to cross the road.
Make sure they know to;
The internet is part of their everyday life and while we cannot wrap our children in bubble wrap, we can make
sure we have educated ourselves and help teach them how to keep themselves safe in their digital world.
ThinkUKnow , NSPCC and Safeinternet.org have really great information on all of this and of course visit us on Facebook or Twitter for updates
Or contact www.cwtcheducation.com
Published Exclusively by LOOP Magazine, CWTCH Education 11th February 2019.
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