With the new educational year about to start and students moving up to high school or going back to school, we wanted to revisit the topic of the impact that Social Media now has on our children as well as how safe they are online.

We’re fairly certain that the majority of parents will use Social Media personally or in a work capacity, and it’s remiss of us to think that our children won’t bother with Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube or Facebook. A study in 2017 found that children make up approximately one-third of internet users worldwide, a topic which we covered in an earlier blog here on ‘Safer Internet Day’ which takes place each year on the 5th February.

The Children’s Society, a national charity that works with vulnerable children and young people, conduct annual research which looks into trends in children’s well-being over time. In particular, it’s been highlighted in this years’ study that almost twenty-five percent of girls aged 14 have self-harmed in some way in the last 12 months, with around one in ten boys also having the same feelings. In light of this, we feel that this is an appropriate time to take another look at the role that Social Media, advertisements, the media and the internet as a whole plays in this.

We know that we want to make sure our children are happy, content and they’re open about their feelings and the changes which are happening around them. However, I’m sure that we can still recall the fear, excitement and anxiety we felt as we started high school all those years ago, but we didn’t have the internet and social media then. If we did, it certainly didn’t seem to have the same social impact that it does now. So we’re calling to all parents to consider the following safeguarding tips to make sure that we’re there for the young people in our lives.

  • Consider speaking to your school about how they assess and understand mental health with pupils at their school. How is this monitored on an ongoing basis?
  • If your child has shown any interest in understanding their gender or sexuality, help them to research this online in a safe environment – away from the online trolls and hurtful forums.
  • Make sure that you have access to all of the social media platforms your children are on, as well as full access to their phone, tablet or PC etc.
  • Encouraging your children to be open and honest with you about their communications online will help you to understand what is happening in their social circles away from home.
  • Bullying has always been a factor with teenagers in high school, this should be monitored on a regular basis by multiple people within the organisation.

If you’re also looking at Social Media for your child for the first time, consider the individual platforms age restrictions in another of our blogs here.

If you work for a school or educational authority and would like a member of the Social Progress team to come to where you are to speak to young people about staying safe online, just drop us a line.

Read the full study from the Children’s Society on the well-being of children and young people here.

To all those that are starting a new school this year, everyone at Social Progress would like to wish you a massive GOOD LUCK! Enjoy it, take it all in and be safe.