Online challenges - advice for parents
The internet is full of great content to engage and educate young people. Challenges online are popular among young people and some challenges, such as the ASL Ice Bucket Challenge and the No Makeup Selfie, can promote and raise money for great causes.
However some of these challenges aren’t for a good cause, challenges such as Blue Whale and Neck Nominate videos can harm young people and adults who take part. All children and parents need to be ready to deal with such challenges, whether they are rumored or real.
One of the key issues raised over online challenges is that of peer pressure. Young people can sometimes be drawn into these challenges because it is what all their friends are doing and saying no can seem like a very hard thing to do. Children’s charity Childline have support for young people who are worried about peer pressure online and can be contacted via their website or on 0800 1111.
The internet is constantly changing, and new issues, challenges and online platforms are arising all the time. We would advise parents and carers to have an open and honest conversation with their children. Ask your children about what they’re seeing online and be prepared to talk about some difficult topics such as self-harm, suicide and negative influences online. The NSPCC has some great advice for when you need to talk about difficult topics.
It’s important that your children feel that they are able to come and talk to you about any issues they may be having online. Although it may seem difficult to have this conversation, we have some conversation starters that can help you to start a discussion with your family about their time online.
Other things to consider to keep your child safe online are:
- Age restrictions: Think about the age restrictions on the sites your family use. Common Sense Media and Net Aware are great sites to see what other parents think of the age ratings on different platforms so that you can make an informed decision about whether your family should be using them. Our social media guides gives an in depth look at the age requirements and safety features on popular social media sites.
- Privacy setting: Most social networking sites have privacy settings to help you manage the content you share and who you share it with; you can decide if you want your posts to be shared with your online friends and followers only or with the public. You can also decide who can contact you on sites you use within the privacy settings.
- Block and report: Make sure you child knows that they can block or report any user that makes them feel uncomfortable online. Childnet have some guidance on how to make reports on different websites.
If you are worried about a child:
- Young Minds is a children’s charities which focuses on young people’s mental health https://youngminds.org.uk
- Papyrus is the national charity for the prevention of young suicide. https://www.papyrus-uk.org
Other helpful links:
- Our Parents’ Guide to Technology gives advice about smartphones, gaming devices, tablets and other internet-connected devices we also have a parents guide to the parental controls offered by your home internet provider.
- With our Social Media Guides you can find out more about the safety features available on these popular social networks.
For professionals working with children
If you are a Professional worried about a child you can contact the Professionals Online Safety (POSH) Helpline