Social Media – a practical guide for parents by Guardianship Care Manager, Casper Jones

Social Media – a practical guide for parents by Guardianship Care Manager, Casper Jones

We currently live in a world where talking to other people is a simple as clicking on a button and then typing “Hello!”

When I was young, meeting up with friends meant asking permission from my parents to use the phone, then dialling numbers as long as the ones we dial abroad now, before hoping that your friend was actually at home. And if any of your friends were going to be late, it was a group decision on whether you would wait any longer for their arrival.

In 2017, there are currently in excess of 60 Social networking websites and messaging apps that we spend most of our days on; chatting, finding out people’s views, arguing about those views and more often than not, discussing how we feel about life in general.

Sites include; Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, to name a few, but the list goes on.

Each of these social sites will continue to evolve, so that they can gain more and more followers. Of course, the most popular of these is definitely Facebook, which currently has around 2.7 billion members. The more members that they have, the greater the amount of money they can generate through advertising.

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With fast developing technology comes more dangers to be wary of and sadly, it’s not just the social site ‘techies’ who work on keeping one step ahead of the rest. Children using social media, may at some point be faced with certain risks and must therefore be aware of how to recognise communicators with potentially negative intentions.

So, whilst we as parents, teachers and Education Guardians can only monitor our children for a fraction of the day whilst we teach them, get them to complete homework, we can’t be there ALL of the time! What can we do to ensure their safety and our peace of mind?

Here are a few ideas to help ensure that you can send your child safely to school with the sort of technology that none of us ‘oldies’ will ever understand;

Firstly it is important for children to be able to identify possible risks and to teach them how to share their concerns.

Whilst online they may be faced with either of the following:

  •  Viewing or sharing of violent, sexual and pornographic content
  •  Inaccurate or false information and extremist views
  •  Over-sharing of personal information
  • Actively or unintentionally cyber – bullying/ bullying or hurtful behaviour

In a mobile age, children can’t be completely protected, even by the best privacy controls; another child may use different settings. So it’s important to keep talking to your child about the implications of social media. Getting a sense of what they think is a useful place to start; you may be surprised by how much thought they may have given to the issues.

 It is important to:

  • Encourage them to show you the apps they are using and who they are engaging with.
  • Explain to them how they can use privacy settings to make sure that only their friends can see what they are posting about.
  • Check that geo-location settings are not enabled, so that their location is not publicly available
  • Show them how they can block people who are sharing content that they do not want to see
  • Encourage them to come and speak to you if they are worried or see anything that upsets them
  • Ensure they understand that people may not always be who they appear to be online and that they must, under no circumstances, arrange to meet people who have introduced themselves online.

The NSPCC (The National Society for the Protection and Care of Children) offer clear guidance for parents to help in ensuring their children’s safety. These include:

  • PARENTAL CONTROLS: Software and tools which block or filter the content your child sees when searching online. And family-friendly public WiFi can help when you’re out and about.
  • CREATE A FAMILY AGREEMENT: Creating a family agreement is a great way to start talking about online safety.

International students studying in UK Boarding Schools may be new to some of the popular UK apps and the risks that come with them, so advice can be sought from their Houseparents at school, or from their UK based guardian.

Click here to find further guidance on The NSPCC website, which includes how you can report inappropriate online activity. If your child is enrolled on the Bright World Guardianships programme and you would like to seek advice then please contact your Guardianship Care Manager.

 Casper Jones, Bright World Guardianship Care Manager

Casper Jones, Bright World Guardianship Care Manager

Posted on September 15th, 2017 @ 12:02 AM



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