It can be difficult for a child to fathom a life without the latest technical advancements when they are growing up surrounded by them. iPads and Smartphones are becoming a bigger part of life for children everywhere, especially here in the UK and in America. Teenagers and young adults can find it difficult to go a day without getting online and communicating with their friends and family via Social Media, which is still a relatively new communication medium. Many various studies have been conducted to try to determine the consequences of the internet phenomena on young people, but with each new article providing contradictory findings, who can we really trust to give us the information we need to keep our children safe on the internet?
Because of the bright screens on mobiles and other electronic devices we see the platforms, our eyes are exposed to blue light, and the mostly blue colour scheme used by platforms like Facebook and Twitter, it’s a well-known truth that accessing social media before you sleep can have a negative effect on your sleeping patterns. It can be recommended to switch off from devices half an hour to an hour before trying to sleep to counteract the sleeping issues these devices can cause.
According to the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, blue light and blue themes have an evident impact on young minds, which will have an impact on their daily life, including their schoolwork. A survey of 12,000 15-year-olds found that individuals who did not use social media on a regular basis scored higher on their GCSEs than those who did. But, given that people aged 16 to 24 spend an average of 27 hours each week online.
In this day and age, is this really surprising though?
Unfortunately, if not used properly, the internet can be a dangerous place, cybercrime is ever prevalent, so ensuring sure young people are aware of the risks before allowing them to explore this new online world is critical in making sure that they are safe online.
Online bullying is another issue. It is one of the most frightening things a young person can face, and it has been covered by many programs and series, recently Big Mouth, which I very much enjoy covered cyberbullying when Missy goes online and causes problems for two of her class mates, Jessi and Ali, insinuating that they have formulated a relationship when they spent time together in a jail cell. This has a damaging effect on them both and on Ali’s ex-girlfriend Samira.
Because of the internet’s anonymity, it is easy for anyone to become a victim of cyber bullies, sometimes known as “online trolls.” These people take great pleasure in making other people unhappy online, and they often target children and teenagers. These trolls, don’t only appear as strangers. They are commonly known to the victim, which makes them more difficult to cope with and can end up causing serious legal issues.
Keeping Our Children Safe
Keeping children safe from this and other bad content on the internet can be a long battle, especially now that most children have their own internet-connected device. As a result, education is crucial. The following are some of the most important guidelines for being safe online:
- You should recommend your child doesn’t add someone they don’t know in person as a friend on a social media site where they can communicate with them in person.
- Make sure your child’s social media account privacy settings are set to high so that only they have control over who sees their post. (You can make Facebook private so that only your friends can view your images and status updates, and you can make Twitter and Instagram private so that only those you choose may follow you and see your stuff.) Making things private can often make your children feel excluded because they will lack the positive buzz their friends are getting from their wider exposure, and this can lead to a lot of issues, ultimately resulting on them resenting you. It’s a really hard balance.
- If all else fails and your child encounter’s an online bully who makes them feel uneasy, tell them to not be afraid to block and report them to the social media platform, and in the worst-case situation, you can recommend that they delete their account to prevent them from being contacted by undesirable people.
- Finally, if something appears to be too good to be true, it most likely is. You should recommend to your child to avoid anything that appears to be a scam or seems suspicious and report it as soon as possible. To avoid becoming infected with a virus, they should be told stay away from shady websites. Also, just in case, invest in decent anti-virus software to keep their devices protected.
- It is highly important to always talk to your children and keep an eye out for any signs that they are being bullied, such as unusual quietness or your child being distant and secretive, getting upset after using a device, or avoiding school.
It’s not all bad though!
People now have a new way to socialise with one another and share joyful moments with their pals thanks to the internet. There shouldn’t be much of a problem as long as they try to avoid problems, are respectful of others and are sensible. The internet has its benefits, with research showing that online multiplayer gaming can improve math and scientific skills, as well as reaction times and strategy, all while having fun with friends. (I like retro games and roleplaying games especially as they are better for engaging the imagination, but that’s just me. As a result, these advantages (although minor) demonstrate that the internet does not deserve the poor press it has received in recent years, and that, with time and understanding, it can become a safer and happier environment for everyone.