Dangers and Issues
Whilst social media is good for communicating and socialising, there are a few dangers that parents need to be aware of, and feel comfortable speaking to children about.
Stranger Danger - Anyone can pretend to be anyone online, therefore it is important that your child understands the dangers with speaking to people they don't know, or allowing strangers to view the content they are posting. Revealing information about themselves, sending photos, or engaging in conversation with strangers online can be dangerous. If they are contacted online to send comments or photos, direct them towards 'Send this Instead' or 'Zipit' apps which can help them to deal with these requests.
Hashtags - Hashtags are most commonly used so that people can search for key topics quickly and find content that they enjoy. However it is important to know that some hashtags look innocent, but actually disguise inappropriate content. Due to their appearance, these hashtags can sometimes bypass any blocks and filters set up, so your child may be able to view content that isn't age appropriate. Predators may also use the hashtag search function to look specifically at images posted by parents - privacy settings are important to consider for the whole family.
Fuelling Apps - Some apps encourage users to download other apps, for example 'Facebook' may encourage users to download 'Messenger', it's partner app and messaging service. It also feeds into Instagram and has a function to link the two accounts together. Facebook also owns Whatsapp, which has an age restriction of 16 years. TikTok users may be encouraged to use anonymous site 'Omegle' (explored above) through user generated videos, as well as 'OnlyFans', a site where people make large amounts of money through selling photos (some explicit) of themselves.
Digital Footprint - The video from Internet Matters at the top of the page talks about creating a positive digital footprint. It is important to remind your child that any content they post online can remain there forever, as people are able to screenshot, photograph or screen record it, even if it is only published for a few seconds. This includes in private messages. Children should be encouraged to create a positive image of themselves on social media and not say or do things that they wouldn't in real life.
Cyber bullying - At some point, young people may be either on the sending or receiving end of cyber bullying. In some cases cyber bullying is a crime. For more information and resources on dealing with cyber bullying, visit our page.
Grooming - When someone builds a relationship with a child in order to proceed sexual relations with them. Groomers may use social media to achieve this, and often make fake profiles to connect with children. Children may not be aware they are being groomed, as they will have grown to trust this person and have built a friendship or relationship with them. To prevent grooming, make use of privacy settings, alert them of stranger danger, and the dangers of oversharing. Regularly talk to them about who they are chatting to.