Being a mum of 2 boys, aged, 9 and 14 years old, I am very aware of the challenges we all face with our children being online. I have discussions with my 9 year, as why he can't have Facebook and Instagram, just because his friends do, why can't he? My 14-year-old won't listen to a word a say as in his eyes, I am a complete weirdo and know nothing about social media/networking. I hope all of this sounds familiar to you and I am not alone in these battles.
It does amaze me that some parents allow their children on social networking sites and ignore the recommended age restrictions. My 9 year old has already tried to pass my family sharing on the IOS (Apple) and download apps that he shouldn't, but I want to protect him so we have a rule that I am allowed to spot check his device at anytime. The last I checked, he had downloaded Instagram, created an account and posted photos of himself pouting. It was deleted very quickly. I totally agree that our children should be allowed to explore and grow, but at the same time we do need to protect and guide in the same way as we teach our youngsters to cross the road.
We are all guilty of using our phones as babysitters, I have the Game Centre on my iPhone and allow him to use this, but I hadn't changed one setting and within a very space of time, he was approached by a 25-year-old man that lived near us. My son doesn't know how to change his privacy settings and his account was completely open. Thank god I have an open conversation with them both and he told me what had happened. I did ask him what did he say to this man? He replied with he had told him that he was 25 years old, called Bob and from India. The conversation stopped. We really do need to educate our children in being online and teach them how to respond to situations.
My 14-year-old is a completely different story and it is more challenging to stop him from being on any social networking site. We talk all the time about his friends and what happens. He is one of the reasons why I started Gooseberry Planet, I wanted to teach him, but at the same time allow him to explore the world around him. We talk about what his friends post and I also find out the latest trends online. He talks openly about girls at school wanting to meet up with the boys they have met on Facebook, thankfully the boys talked the girls out of doing this. They all agreed, if they were going to meet up, the boys will go with them. I know our world is very virtual, but we still need to teach our children to stay in groups. Neither of my children are into gaming, but I know that these rules apply to this too, teach your children if they are into online gaming to stay in groups and not to be pulled away by individuals to game with one particular person. This is how the grooming starts. We cover this in our Gooseberry Planet Apps.
I hope this article helps you have a conversation with your child or children. It isn't hard to educate yourself, we have videos on our YouTube channel showing you how to change privacy settings on YouTube, Google, Facebook etc… go take a look, you might learn something!
Thank you for reading this, help me in my campaign to change the way we are educating our children, the current methods in schools aren't working as the sex exploitation and grooming figure are going up. Teaching through gamification is fun and engaging and our game takes children through those situations they could encounter in real life. Contact your school and tell them about us and how we are changing the way we are joining child, teacher and parent together at the same time whilst learning.