Social networking is hugely popular. Many young people are sophisticated in the way they use social media apps and websites, tailoring their communication for different audiences, and accessing them from a range of devices including smartphones, tablets, and games consoles.
Social media, like all forms of public communication, comes with some risks. Not all of these risks turn into actual problems; and if children never face any risks, they never learn how to deal with them. By helping your child understand what the risks are, you can play a big part in preventing them from turning into problems.
Understand the risks children may need to deal with
What they might see or do:
- Seeing or sharing of violent, sexual and pornographic content
- Inaccurate or false information and extreme views
- Promotion of harmful behaviours including self-harm, anorexia and suicide
- Over-sharing of personal information
- Actively or unintentionally getting involved in bullying or hurtful behaviour
Who they might meet:
- People who might bully, intimidate or frighten
- People posing behind fake profiles for:
- Sexual grooming and stalking
- Blackmail and extortion
- Identity theft and hacking
How this could affect them:
- Fear of missing out leading to excessive use or exaggeration
- Getting upset by things they have seen and being uncertain about what to do
- Engaging, or being pressured into engaging in more risky behaviour either by accident or by design
- Developing unrealistic, and perhaps depressing ideals of body image and gender
- Becoming subject to peer pressure or interactions that are intense or too difficult to handle
- Creating an online reputation that may create problems for them in the future
Practical tips to help minimise the risks your child might face
It’s good practice for apps and websites to have safety advice and well-designed safety features which can make a real difference to how safe your child will be when using them. Work through safety and privacy features on the apps that your child is using, or might use. Make sure they understand the point of these and how to use them.
Don’t be put off by believing your child knows more than you
- Ask them to show you which social media apps they use and what they like about them. Talk about how they use them and what makes them so engaging
- Explain how you can use privacy settings to make sure only approved friends can see posts & images
- Check if any of their apps have ‘geo-location’ enabled, sharing their location unintentionally
- Show them how to report offensive comments or block people who upset them
- Check ‘tagging’ settings so that when others are posting or sharing photos online, your child’s identity is not revealed. Also, get people‘s consent before sharing photos
- Encourage your child to come and talk to you if they see anything that upsets them
Keep talking and stay involved
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.
Encourage your child to think carefully about the way they, and others behave online, and how they might deal with difficult situations.
- People may not always be who they say they are online: how can this create problems?
- Why is it unwise to meet anyone in the real world that you’ve only ever met online?
- Even if you think your messages are private, remember that words and images can always be captured and broadcast.
- People present themselves differently online – do they really look like that? Are they always having that good a time?
- Be aware that screens, and especially being anonymous, can lead people to say things they wouldn’t say to someone’s face.
- What does being a good friend and a likeable person online look like?
- There can be pressure to be part of a particular group online or to be seen to be following a certain set of ideas
- How can you take a step back and make your own decisions
For more information
You can find out more about how children use social media, the apps they use, the risks they face, how to use privacy settings, and advice and tips about how to talk to your children at:
The need for strong passwords!
Making a strong password that you can remember easily, but that will be very hard for someone else to guess or work out, is very important for your online security in the modern world.
As you start to use the internet more, you will become more reliant on online accounts for activities such as banking, online shopping, managing household bills and so on, so, learning skills around personal online security is crucial to your continued safety. here are a few tips to help:
Basic password rules:
Make sure passwords contain combinations of:
- Upper case letters (ABCDERFG…)
- Lower case letters (abcdefg….)
- Numbers (123456…..)
- Symbols (!£<)%$?….)
- Make sure your password is AT LEAST 8 characters long, the more the better
- Avoid whole words as these can be surprisingly easy to work out
- NEVER use references from things that many people are likely to know about you: your name, your date of birth, etc.
- NEVER use easy to guess things like Password or 12345678 as your password. These are extremely easy to guess
- Change your important passwords regularly – at least once a year
- Never reuse passwords, if one account gets compromised all your accounts get compromised
- NEVER share your password with ANYONE
Passwords are no good if you can’t remember them
It’s no good having a super secure password if you can’t remember it!
Try to make sure that the password means something to you but contains references that most people wouldn’t know about you.
A combination of letters from a parent’s middle name, the location of your first holiday, your dog’s name, and your mom’s phone number, would be difficult for someone to guess.
So, you might have a password like BakScoLuc077 – Bak from Baker (dad’s middle name), Sco from Scotland (first holiday location) Luc from Lucky (dog’s name) and 077 from the start of your mom’s mobile number.
This has a clear pattern (three letters from 4 sources that you will remember) and is pretty much random to anyone else.
It hasn’t got a special character, so why not put an exclamation mark at the start for good measure: !GeoLanPat079.
Keep a prompt for your password somewhere safe rather than writing it down.
Why not test your password: https://howsecureismypassword.net/ you may be surprised at how quickly it could be broken with the right tools.
The password shown above would take in the order of 3,000,000 years to break according to this tool!
Use a password storage tool
Your phone is almost certainly connected to an online (cloud) service that can store literally thousands of passwords encrypted in the cloud.
Apple’s Key Chain is a good example of this. With Apple Key Chain you can store all your passwords and then access them from any device in the world using either a master password, fingerprint, or facial recognition. Completely random passwords can then be generated by your web browser and stored in your Key Chain. You could have hundreds of very complex passwords, but not need to learn any of them. All you need to learn is your master password.
If you have any questions about internet safety concerns please contact The Featherstone Academy’s IT Team: [email protected]