If I could give you one gift it would be to see yourself through my eyes and then you would see how special you really are.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Internet Safety Day

Today is the 11th worldwide Internet Safety Day

  "Let's create a better internet together"

Schools, radio, TV and social media have been discussing the importance of being safe on the internet and how we can protect our children from the hidden dangers a computer and it's technology can introduce into our lives.
I am sure that most responsible parents have the safety filters already loaded on the computers within their homes, but this is not enough to protect our children when so many of them have smart phones, IPods, tablets and laptops and of course they probably understand how to use them better than we do. 
Our children will probably make many of the same mistakes that we made whilest growing up, after all a teenager is still a teenager, the hormone changes are the same, the interest in fashion, music and sex will for all intents and purpose be the same, however in today's age of technology, gossip spreads quicker, where we used to talk about those youngsters having sex, getting drunk, sharing a "jazz mag" or just being rebellious in huddles in the loos or corners of the playground, this information is now available to all via social websites, photographic evidence can be spread from one corner of the world to another just by a few clicks of a button and pornography can be found and viewed with relative ease. 

I have previously talked about the research done regarding the teenage brain "Why are we not enough" October 9 2013.  We need to remember that our teenagers tend to use the back part of their brains the most, that's the bit that focuses on pleasure and reward, interestingly brain image research carried out by Powell showed that the reward had to be medium to large, for any brain activity to show, if the rewards were small the brain often did not show any activity on image scans at all. The front part, the prefrontal cortex which is where they think about cause and effect or the consequences of their actions is still maturing, in fact this part of the brain doesn't reach it's optimum until early 20's. 

Let's put teenage brains in contact with social media, that is they are in front of a screen and not a live person and we expect them to behave as a fully mature adult - what a foolish expectation, of course they are going to make mistakes. Often it is not the mistake that is the biggest problem but how they deal with that mistake. Who do they go to for help and support or do they try and deal with it themselves, alone because they are embarrassed.

All this is happening whilst they are figuring out who they are, where do they fit in. Imagine trying to work through this when you are adopted. These questions can become much more complex when they cannot link their identity biologically to their adoptive parents. What if they like to be outside exploring, playing rugby or enjoy heavy metal music when their home environment is full of dancers, jazz and book worms. Then when they look at their birth parents and they see drug addiction, alcoholism, neglect and domestic abuse. The confusion potentially could be so damaging and this could be lived through social media.

Today as I listened to radio 4 - Woman's Hour, You and Yours and Radio 1 5.45pm news report on Internet safety we all seem to focus on protecting our children, I agree wholeheartedly that we must protect our children but just as importantly we must educate them to be able to protect themselves. We are at a disadvantage as we have not experienced teenage life with technology so maybe we need to provide them with the tools to be safe and the support when they get it wrong.

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