Young people enjoy using technology. Many regularly go online to play games, use apps, make video calls to friends or family members, watch videos and their favourite TV shows or films and listen to music!
Remember whilst most young people have their own tablets, computers and mobile phones or are able to use their parent’s or friends and can regularly communicate with people that they know and have met face-to-face or people they have met online.
There are lots of different ways to communicate - it can be through pictures, videos, talking to each other or writing messages.
It is important to understand about the internet. The internet is unmanaged, this means that any person can add information, images and videos, and no one person is checking that this is appropriate for others to access. It also means that there is nothing stopping a young person accessing and watching things that are aimed at adults.
Thinkuknow is an education programme which protects children both online and offline. There are different websites for different ages, with advice about staying safe on a phone, tablet or computer.
E-Safety Tips Videos
This ‘Internet Matters’ video talks about what you can do at home to keep computers, tablets and phones safe and gives e-safety tips for parents of teens.
Teenagers are risk takers, it is in their nature and as parents this is something we are unable to stop.
Instead it is important to get involved and play an active part in their online lives. Talk about issues that may occur online. Normalise the topics, talk about them openly and regularly. The internet and technology are something that your children are surrounded by and it is safer for you all to understand it.
It may feel embarrassing, but by making the subjects less secretive your child will be more likely to come to you for help and support if needed.
Some of the top issues young people can face online;
Sending images and videos
It is important to understand that anything your child uploads or send to others, could be forwarded on to many other people. The images and videos could then spread online and they may not have control over who sees it, downloads it or watches it.
It is easy for young people to have conversations online with people they don’t know.
Easy access to inappropriate content
Bullying that happens online. This includes through social media platforms, apps and online games.
As parents, it’s natural to be concerned about children and teenagers spending long periods at their computer or video gaming console. As it’s a fairly new phenomenon for most of us, we can’t rely so much on comparisons with our own childhood experiences, and it can be difficult to know exactly what is healthy and what might constitute a video game addiction.
Talking To Your Child
4 key points when talking with your child about staying safe online;
Staying Safe Online
It is important as a parent that you know how to keep your child safe online by blocking upsetting or harmful content they may see.
If you have specific concerns;
What if my child does not want to talk?
You can’t force them to talk but don’t give up. Try again at another time. Remember to be patient and ready to talk if they change their mind. Identify a safe person they could talk to that is not their parent – sometimes young people may find it easier to ask someone that isn’t you.
If you are concerned that your child is in immediate danger call 999.
If you cannot make voice calls, you can now contact the 999 emergency services by SMS text from your mobile phone. Emergency SMS is part of the standard 999 service which has been designed specifically for people with hearing loss or difficulty with speech.
Social media is often a big part of a young person's life and it can often feel that they are glued to their phones. As a parent/carer if you are worried about who your child is contacting on their phone, talk to them. You can always check who they are messaging.
It can be hard to understand all of the current social media platforms, so if you need to talk about your young person's internet use or are worried about who they are talking to online, you can always contact us for advice and guidance.
You can also contact a member of the 0-19 Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.