As a mum of five, I have always considered open and honest communication with my children to be one of the most important aspects of parenting. My children have always known that they can talk to me about anything and that I will always approach any problem calmly and without judgment. I can draw on my own experiences to discuss situations and solutions to problems. But the world today is very different to the world I grew up in. The internet and social media has influenced our lives in so many ways, opening up a whole new world of potential risks to young people. Online pornography, sending nudes and online grooming are dangers that can pose harm to our children. At an age where their curiosity about relationships is growing and their hormones are raging, some youngsters may be tempted into doing something online without thinking about the consequence of their actions. These uncharacteristic actions can have devastating results. So it is more important than ever, that we are clued up about the internet and understand the need for digital parenting. Being aware of the possible ways in which kids today view sex, relationships and the internet can help us to support our children giving them the confidence and resilience they need in this modern world.
Think U Know is an online education programme from the National Crime Agency's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command. Providing education about sexual abuse and exploitation, it provides access to practical information and resources to help raise awareness and keep young people safe online. You can also report problems and incidents to the CEOP.
The Think U Know parent's site contains information and advice to support parents looking to find out more about keeping their children safe online. It also features a new video based on the story of Romeo and Juliet, set in the modern world. The famous love story is played out via social media highlighting that although the world changes, children don't. I think this is brilliant.
There are practical steps that can be taken as parents, including the use of parental controls on computers and changing privacy settings on apps, but that is only one aspect of keeping children safe online. Children won't always access the internet from home so they need to be educated and made aware of the potential online dangers, and they need to know that if a problem arises they can discuss it with a trusted adult. There is an ongoing need to talk to young people about sex, relationships and the internet, and as technology advances, we need to keep up with the advancements in communication through the varying technologies and social media apps available to our children.
*I have been compensated for this post but retain all editorial control*