What is the best way to support a child that is broadcasting themselves to the world? Lucie, a mum to a 12 and 14-year-old, shares her struggles with issues around sharing of personal information and dealing with nasty comments from those watching her children’s videos.
Lucie’s has two older children who use the Internet regularly, including her 12-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son, who is autistic.
Having a child with autism means that Lucie is particularly concerned about streaming. “My understanding of streaming is a broadcast that’s live on the Internet,” she says. “It doesn’t feel safe, especially for my son, because he could unintentionally give away personal information or be vulnerable to rude and abusive comments.”
Lucie’s son struggles with the concept that people online can pretend to be anyone they choose, which puts him at risk, she says.
Despite this, Lucie admits that until recently, she didn’t do much checking on her older children’s online activities. “We’ve talked about the stranger danger aspect, telling the kids not to disclose personal information. It’s hard to get that to sink in with an internet/YouTube obsessed child!”
Last year, Lucie discovered to her horror that her son had been streaming live on YouTube. “He had a channel where he shared videos about Dr Who, but he’d be streaming himself talking,” explains Lucie. “He was just talking about random topics but he had some quite spiteful and abusive comments on those videos.”
Lucie and her partner had no idea what was happening for several weeks. As soon as they did become aware, however, they took swift action. “We took down his channel and explained why we’d done it. Now he just watches his favourite YouTube channels and doesn’t post or stream videos any more.”
The new rules are carefully explained to both children, and Lucie also does regular checks of the children’s browser history. “It’s just about making sure the sites they visit are age appropriate and that the apps downloaded are safe,” she says.
Lucie advises other parents to keep tabs on their children’s online lives. “That’s my top and only tip. I was horrified when I discovered what our son had been up to. It was innocent on his part, but it was awful.”
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