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On Wednesday the 27th of February FlatWorldWorks gave a workshop on the dangers of social media for young people. The audience were all members of ABC Fostering, a professional fostering service with flexible support to meet the individual needs of fostercarers, families and children.

The talk was hosted by Laura Chambers who works as an IT Team lead and an Ethical Hacker for FlatWorldWorks.

In today's society, social media are all around us; making it simpler to communicate make memories and make contacts, opening doors to new exciting opportunities for creativity and education. But how safe is it? Not many people take time to think about the negatives of social media but it is essential to be aware of all things that influence you around you in both a positive and negative way.

The most popular social media platforms in 2019: 

 

Although Each of these platforms have their own safety and usage guidelines which the user agrees to when they sign up, applications like Facebook, Snapchat and TikTok have a massive underage user problem​...

According to a report by Influence Central, the average child gets their first smartphone at age 10, and opens their first social media account by age 11. By the time they’re 12, 50% of kids use at least one social media platform. To sign up, many lie about their age. That’s because popular sites like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Tiktok all set their age limit at 13, in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. 

One of the driving fctors for this is because Rates of adolescent depression and suicide are on the rise, and many parents and psychologists alike are linking this trend to the prevalence of smartphones and social media.

Children as young as four will for the first time be taught how social media and spending time online impacts on their mental health, the Government has announced. Compulsory health education lessons due to be introduced next year will encourage children to limit their time on Facebook, smart phones and games consoles and spend more time outdoors with friends.

That said, not all SM and online platforms are bad. of course;

We hear a lot about the negative effects on children of using the internet but it can also be a positive thing.   What skills do you think your children are learning whilst they are online, whether networking, gaming or doing homework?

  1. Staying in touch

For families who can’t always be together – separated parents or far-away grandparents, for instance – the internet lets you stay closer than ever before. Checking in with regular video chats or sharing photos with each other online is a great way to stay connected when you can’t be together in person.

  1. Making friends

Young people who have trouble dealing with social situations may find that online interaction makes them feel less isolated. YouTube star Zoella, for instance, has frequently spoken about her struggles with anxiety. She now has over 12 million subscribers to her channel and is an ambassador for the mental health charity Mind. Interacting successfully online could even give some children more confidence to take into their offline relationships.

  1. Being creative

Young people who are interested in music, writing or art can find loads of useful resources and ways to practise online. From starting a blog to following your favourite artists on Instagram, the internet can be a great way for young aspiring creatives to get started.

  1. Finding help

Young people who are dealing with an issue often find essential support online. Forums like The Mix (a 'guide to the real world' and online community for teens and young adults), can help them access information and speak to a supportive community from the privacy of their own homes, often anonymously, which makes them feel more able to share.

  1. Getting ahead

Going forward, many – if not most – jobs will require some degree of technical skill.

‘Getting comfortable with technology and the online world will be an advantage when it comes to learning about computing.’

Schools now teach computing as a discipline, just like Maths or English. Some of it can be studied offline, of course, but getting comfortable with technology and the online world will be an advantage when it comes to learning about computing.

  1. Learning

When it comes to using devices in the classroom, results have been mixed, but there are lots of other tech improvements that are helping young people learn. Your child can use programmes like Mathletics to practise their Maths, for example.

  1. Staying organised

 Lots of schools now post homework assignments online, giving you and your child another way to keep on top of their schedule. And there are lots of apps designed to help kids and families get organised – have a look together and see if any might work for you. 

  1. Special needs and disability

There’s lots of useful tech being developed to support people with disabilities and special educational needs. And even tech that wasn’t developed specifically for young people with disabilities can have real benefits. Some parents of children with autism.

Young people are very impressive with with their knowledge and capability of technology. With the Internet at their fingertips, they have access to so much information and much wider platform to share information which can be both a blessing and a curse.


I have a few tips that you should share with the young people around you and to think think about yourself when posting updates, videos, and photos.

  • If you see anything online that you don’t like or you find upsetting, tell someone you trust
  • Be nice to people online
  • Take care with what you share
  • Keep personal information private
  • Check your privacy settings
  • Know how to report posts
  • Keep your passwords safe
  • Never meet anyone in person you’ve only met online

In summary, there are a lot of advantages and disadvantages to social media and its important that parents and guardians educate themselves on such matters to ensure the safety of their children online. Feel free to contact us if you feel you need more guidance in these matters.

 

 


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