Safer Internet Day 2024 - Safeguarding Teenagers

Safer Internet Day

Digital Times Call For Digital Measures

We live in a world dominated by technology, where the internet has not only become an integral part of our daily lives but also a little bit like the second language that nobody asked to learn. And yet, it's such an amazing thing, giving us the power to stay in touch with family and friends from a device we hold in our hands, the power to connect with services from the comfort of our homes, and even another way to do our weekly shop. There is the saying, "With great power, comes great responsibility."

With our teenagers growing up in a digital world that keeps evolving around us, it's important that we recognise and exercise our duty to continue to safeguard them from the minority of people who use this wonderful invention to exploit and manipulate its most vulnerable and unsuspecting users. Tuesday 6th February 2024 marks Safer Internet Day, and there is no better time than to check-in with your skillset, your own knowledge, and your teenager. Let’s talk about internet safety.

“But I’m not tech-savvy,” I hear you say. “I don’t understand all this internet stuff.” You don’t have to be tech-savvy. Most of the time, it is about educating teenagers and getting them to understand the dangers themselves, so they can make the right decisions to safeguard themselves and they feel comfortable to let you know when something is wrong, so you can support and take action accordingly.

It is crucial to shed light on the potential dangers that teenagers may encounter online. More importantly, we need to empower parents and carers with the knowledge and skills to safeguard teenagers in the digital world.

The Digital Playground

Imagine the internet as a massive playground for teenagers, offering a plethora of opportunities for learning, socialising, and being entertained. However, with these advantages come inherent risks that can affect the well-being of our teens. Cyberbullying, exposure to inappropriate content, and online predators are just a few of the things that threaten the harmony of this online playground, meaning we have to be aware of what we can do to safeguard our teenagers online.

The Risks:

Cyberbullying is the act of being bullied online, and teenagers can fall victim to online harassment, threats, and unkindness, impacting their mental health and well-being.

A significant portion of the internet contains inappropriate content, yet is still available at the click of a button. A simple search can allow teenagers – or anyone, for that matter – to find anything within seconds. But what about when unwanted content appears, or worse, is sent to us? Parents must be aware of the potential exposure that their teenagers may have to inappropriate content and should learn how to take steps to filter and monitor their teenager’s online activities.

Online predators, unfortunately, seek to exploit users of this digital playground, using the anonymity provided by the internet to look for ways to intercept teenagers to carry out malicious intentions. It is absolutely essential that parents make sure their teenagers are able to recognise the signs of grooming, exploitation, and understand where to turn for support if they are uncomfortable.

Everyone loves to share information online, and teenagers are no exception. Quite often, they will innocently share information without any thought around the potential consequences of that information falling into the wrong hands. That is why it is important to educate teenagers around what information they should and should not be sharing, and to help them understand how other people can use their information irresponsibly.

Okay, so that’s all rather worrying.

Safer Internet Day is all about raising awareness around safeguarding children and young people online. Thankfully for parents and carers, it’s actually a lot easier than you think nowadays to safeguard your children online, even with limited technological knowledge and experience. Every month, I run an online group intervention, supporting parents and carers to get to grips with how their teenagers are using the internet and educating parents and carers around what they can do to keep teenagers safe online in many simple ways.

In the first part of this session, parents and carers learn and explore how to identify the risks and challenges that the internet poses to children, including social media, indecent materials, sextortion, cyberbullying, and grooming. They also gain an understanding of "digital footprints" and the laws that govern our children's online behaviour.

In the second part of this session, parents and carers learn about monitoring and parental controls, and explore how to promote positive and safer internet usage among their children. Parents and carers also learn a number of strategies to encourage healthy dialogue with their children about their online behaviour and activities.

Through attending one of these monthly interventions, you will empower yourself with essential knowledge and strategies to navigate the digital world more confidently. You will gain valuable insights on how to protect your children while nurturing open communication with them. Creating a safer online environment for your family is easier than you think. In just 1 hour and 30 minutes, you can empower yourself with the tools you need for informed online parenting. And if a group setting is not your thing, this intervention is also available on a one-to-one basis. 

So, on this Safer Internet Day, what will you be doing to ensure your child is safe online?

Book your place now on the next Online Safety session by clicking here!