After last week’s very emotional story from the mum who doesn’t think having her kids was worth it, I thought it might be good to tackle a more practical parenting issue in Untold Stories this week – one of internet safety. This post, written for me by John at Dad Blog UK, looks not at how we as parents protect our kids at home, but how we manage online safety in the face of other parents, parents who don’t seem to care as much about keeping their children safe from harm. It’s an interesting angle on a much talked about topic and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. (John was happy to have his name to this one, but if you’d like to contribute a story to this series then you’re welcome to stay anonymous.)
Is there an aspect of parenting I find ‘really difficult’? This was the question posed to me by Jo, the author behind Slummy Single Mummy and a blogger I have long admired, not forgetting she’s also a published author. [Flattery will get you everywhere John.]
Well, where do I start with this?
Finding a way to get my kids to eat with exemplary table manners? Dealing with friendship disputes? Stressing about secondary school applications? The list is endless. I worry about my kids all the time, but one issue has cropped up repeatedly and it’s cropping up more and more as my kids get older. The issue I am talking about is online safety and digital resilience. Having rules in our own house is easy. These are straightforward to put in place and keep on top of. It’s having to deal with the rules and standards that other families follow that presents a plethora of issues.
I am going to come out and say it; time and again I have found families not even following the most basic online safety rules. Unfortunately, many mums and dads don’t appreciate the impact this has on other children and the wider community. I struggle with this, I mean really, really struggle with it. Just when I think I have seen it all, I learn of another acquaintance whose child has had a nasty experience online and one that, more often than not, could have been avoided if they’d followed some basic online safety rules.
This is a sensitive subject within our household. A little while ago one of our kids was on the receiving end of some online bullying. When I looked into what was going on, I was horrified at what I discovered parents were letting their kids do online. There’s a particular social media platform (I won’t mention it’s name) that has a suggested user age of 13. I found that many of my child’s friends used this app and often with their parents’ blessing, despite being several years too young.
My child was introduced to a girl, we’ll call her Miranda, at the local athletics club. Miranda had a full, public profile and thousands of followers. At the age of nine, she’d regularly post content of herself with a full face of make-up and wearing short skirts. My child thought this was amazing and that she had a really cool friend. Alas, it transpired Miranda had been self-harming. View Post