How many of you can remember the first time you let your first child go to the park on their own?
How many of you can remember the first time you let your first child go to the park on their own? Before this took place, can you remember how many times you spoke to your child about being safe and what to do? How many times had you checked the route with them? How many times had you checked that they were safe to play on the apparatus? How many times had you discussed; the safe ways to cross the road, what to do if someone is mean to them when they are playing or what they should do if someone asks them to go somewhere else with them?
I would imagine that you researched the area and play space thoroughly and all checked, and double checked, that they knew exactly what to do if anything bad, worrying or unpleasant were to happen to them. Some of you may have initially even followed them without them knowing just to be doubly sure all was fine.
With this in mind, can you cast your mind back to when this same child first signed up for their own social media account, when they got their first phone, when they were given unbridled access to the Internet? Before they were granted all of this freedom, did you spend as long talking to them about the possible dangers and issues which could arise?
Perhaps more importantly, did you discuss how your child should behave when out in that big open playground we call the Internet? Did you discuss what to do if they find themselves in a situation they do not want to be in? How many of you thoroughly checked out the “apparatus” like you would have done with the park? By this, I mean did you sign up for the same social media accounts to find out what they are, how they work, what the possible issues are?
A recent Internet Safety special, published by TES, has some rather worrying and concerning facts and figures. These could be really helpful in informing you about the ongoing issues which are arising and help you to prepare for conversation with your child/children.
Having an awareness of these issues before they find themselves in a situation that you, and they, would much rather they were not in, would be incredibly helpful to you all. The article identifies that students are most likely receiving the messages about safety but these are perhaps not ‘hard hitting’ enough as they are still being ignored in many cases. Although we in school, do as much as we can, and I am sure parents are having the necessary conversations with their children, some are simply still not listening. Unfortunately, in school we still hear of students finding themselves in compromising situations; we also hear of students signing up for all sorts of accounts which we are sure will only lead to them being unhappy.
Although the Internet offers some fantastic opportunities for learning and communicating, it also provides a minefield of issues which need to be navigated carefully. Clearly we do not want a blanket ban on the use of the Internet and mobile devices but I still think more needs to be done to help ensure all of our children are as safe as they can and we need to work on this together.
If you are interested in reading the full article you can access the special edition via the link below and download it as a PDF. I would most definitely advise anyone reading this to do just that, so that they are armed with the most up to date information and statistics so that you can be fully informed and therefore help to support your child and keep them safe at all times.
Working on this together, we will hopefully build a safer Internet and most importantly develop a culture and ethos where everyone can use the new technology at our disposal safely and with confidence.
For further help and support, please follow this link which will take you to the parental section of the “Think You Know” website:
Image courtesy of https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/