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.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Cyber concerns

In an article I read recently a quote struck home. "Our children are the natives, we are the immigrants" the article was about the Internet and Social Media. What a brilliant analogy, our children have such a good understanding of how social media works and we as parents don't understand the language, the culture or how the younger generations society works. How are we supposed to protect our children if we don't understand the world that they live in. All four of our children use computers, they all watch I player, Netflix, Amazon Prime. Child 4 plays games downloaded onto my IPad and can navigate CBeebies to watch his favourites like Andy and his Dinosaur Adventures and My Pets & Me. Child 1 and 2 have "group chat" which is on Facebook messenger or I messenger with their school/college friends. They both have Instagram, uploading photos of things, events etc that interest them.  Child 1, 2 & 3 have stories with Snapchat, interacting with their friends via pictures and comments.

As a child my communications with my friends happened in the playground, at the park, via an old fashioned telephone, later in the pub, restaurants, cinemas, nightclubs. This is how I met new people, usually surrounded or at least with a couple of good friends, who would step in if they felt something was odd or I had drunk too much. We always arrived together and unless we knew they were completely compus mentus or relatively safe we left together.  Nowadays social media means that our children can be in communication with their friends, acquaintances and strangers 24/7.
Bullying that would often happen before the school bell rang, during break times, on walks between lessons and on the way home (my memory of being bullied like this have I believe, shaped who I am today - good and bad) is now able to happen all day and night, every day. No let up at weekends and holidays.  Meeting new people happened in places we generally knew or with others we knew and trusted. We could actually see who we were interacting with, it was face to face. Nowadays unless we know who we are talking to we could be speaking to anyone over the Internet. A keyboard adds a barrier and people are more likely to write things that they wouldn't say face to face.

We have had to deal with a cyber bullying situation recently and I was surprised by a many different things. Firstly, the vitriol teenagers can post about someone, the spite in ensuring that the victim can read it and the lack of understanding of the effect of their behaviour. Secondly mine and my husband's lack of understanding as to how social media now works is. group chats, instant messaging. Thirdly the lack of knowledge in schools and our community.
 In fact it has led me to research more into children and social media, especially when we have an adopted child in our midst. I already worry about social media particularly Facebook as our child 4's birth parents are but 2 clicks away but it isn't just the worries of children in care hunting out their roots before they have the maturity to deal with what they may find. There is sexting, cyber bullying, grooming and the knowledge that whatever you may post is potentially there forever. Our vulnerable children are so open to over stepping the mark just because they want to belong, or they feel that, that is what they deserve.

I have come to the conclusion that as a parent I must ensure that I understand this new society based on wifi, I am lucky that I have older children who are savvy and open, it was child 1 that told me about the cyber bullying. Hopefully child 1 and 2 will be able to educate me and keep me upto date in this information technology world enabling me to in turn educate them and their younger siblings in how to stay safe and just as importantly what to do when things go wrong.

This is a brilliant link (a little American but the information is useful) watch and learn.

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