With recent information in the press about Snapchat and the alleged leak of thousands of private images, we don’t blame parents for being terrified about what their children are up to online. It can be tempting to hark back to the glory days when our nights were spent furtively whispering to our friends on our parent’s telephone (if we could get away with it) or passing notes under our desks in school.
I, for one, am eternally grateful that my teenage years are not documented in glorious Technicolor for all to see (other than a few grainy snaps of me in Dr Martens with ‘Sun-in’ bleached hair that have sneaked their way onto Facebook). But those days have well and truly gone and if we are going to be any help at all to our children we must embrace the change. But how on earth can we keep our children safe online?
No separation between online world and real world
At the Anti-Bullying Alliance we spend a lot of time educating teachers and youth workers about the dangers of cyberbullying – but also equally, encouraging the older generations to see social media in a positive light – to work with children to make the internet a good place to be. We won’t win this fight by only focusing on the dangers – for children and young people there is no separation between the online world and the real world – there is just one world and all to play for. So what can you do today to make this a better world for your child?
Free to roam but within reason
It’s amazing that so many of us are scared to let our children play outside but we will give them free roam of the internet. So as a starter for ten – do what you can to make technology in your home as safe as it possibly can be – set up parental controls. Then talk to your children. So much of this comes down to having an open and trusting relationship where your child shares their world with you because you will never keep up with all the latest trends – and it’s very hard to control what your child accesses outside of the home (think about sharing possibilities of just one child in the playground with a smartphone).
Love, locations and reassurance
There are top tips you can share with your child to help keep the trolls at bay that are as true for adults as for children – never give away your password to anyone, not even ‘friends’; make sure your security settings are the highest they can be; don’t share intimate photos or videos even if you think you’re in love; make sure your location default setting is off; block and report abusive content and never like, retweet or pass on abusive content. But most of all the biggest impact we can have as adults is to model kindness and respect in every part of our life– and to be there with a hug and reassurance that we all deserve better when it goes wrong.
For parent guides and videos relating to cyberbullying visit the Anti-Bullying Alliance’s cyberbullying resources.