Messaging apps and social media are a great way for young people to connect with family and friends. But would your child know what to do if they were bullied or contacted by a stranger? Find out about the potential risks of online contact.

Do your kids like to Facetime with grandma, chat with friends on WhatsApp and share their status on Facebook? Technology has opened up a world of opportunities for communication and self-expression for children and adults alike but, unfortunately, online contact is not always positive. Find out about four types of negative contact your son or daughter might experience online and what action you can take.

Bullying

From nasty comments on social media (trolling) to harassment during a video game (griefing), being bullied online can be as upsetting as being bullied in real life, not least because it can happen 24/7. Some young people even become bullies or bystanders themselves, without realising the severity of the situation. Find out more from:

Grooming

When someone makes contact with a child with the motive of sexual abuse or radicalisation, this is known as grooming. Children are often very trusting so it’s important that you understand what grooming is and that you know what to do if your child is contacted in this way via messaging apps, social media or multiplayer games. Find out more from:

Sexting

You might be used to your child taking lots of selfies but what if they send or receive naked photos or videos? Many young people don’t realise that sexting is risky – the recipient is breaking the law if the subject is under 18 and the image could get passed on to others and used for bullying. Find out more from:

Harvesting personal information

Your child could be persuaded to reveal information about themselves online that someone else could use to track them, steal from them or commit a crime in their name. Find out more from:

Take action

  • Talk to your child about the kind of negative contact they and their friends might experience online – don’t shy away from difficult topics such as bullying and sexting
  • Remind them not to share personal information like their name, address and school with strangers or in public places online
  • Advise your child to not respond to any messages that worry them and reassure them that they can come to you if they are concerned about someone who has contacted them online
  • Act on any unwanted contact straight away – take screen shots of messages as evidence, contact your child’s school and social network provider if they are being bullied and report any incidents of grooming to the police
  • Make the most of parental controls and other tools, such as privacy settings on Facebook and Instagram

 

Looking for more resources to help your child manage online contact? Check out Vodafone’s Be Strong Online modules for schools and #BeStrong compassion emojis.