Keeping Youngsters Safe Online

As a child growing up surrounded by the newest electronic advances, it can be hard to imagine a life without it. Teens and young adults in the same situation struggle to go a day without going online and interacting with others via the relatively new communication platform of Social Media. There have been many different studies done to try and explore what effects the internet phenomenon has had on young people, but with each new article releasing contradicting facts, who are we meant to trust?

It’s a well-known fact that using social media late at night is supposedly meant to keep you awake due to the bright screen used to view the platforms and the predominantly blue colour scheme. This obviously takes its toll on young minds which will impact their daily lives including their school work according to the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. A study of 12,000 15 year olds discovered that those who didn’t use social media frequently had a higher GCSE result than those who do. But is this surprising when people between 16-24 spend an average of 27 hours a week online?

Unfortunately, the internet can be a nasty place if it’s not used correctly, so making sure young people are aware of the risks is crucial before allowing them to explore this new online world.

One of the scariest things for a young person is online bullying. Because of the anonymity of the internet makes it easy for anyone to become the victim of bullies otherwise know and “internet trolls.” These people thrive off of making innocent people unhappy online and tend to see young people as an easy target. However, these trolls don’t just take the form of strangers. Other times they can be known to the victim which often makes it harder to deal with.

Keeping young people safe from this and other harmful content can be a long battle, especially when most young people have their own personal device to access the internet on. Therefore, education if key. Here are the three main tips for staying safe online:

          Don’t add anyone you don’t know in person on to a social media site where you can have first person contact with them.

          Make sure that you have set your social media account privacy settings to high so that only you can choose who sees your content. (Setting Facebook privacy so that only your friends can see your photos and statuses and making Twitter and Instagram private so that only people you accept can follow you and see your content.

          If all else fails and you come across an online bully and feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to block and report them to the social media platform and worst case scenario, delete your account to stop them reaching you.

          And finally, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Stay away from anything that you believe could be a scam and report it straight away. Stay away from dodgy websites to avoid getting viruses. Also Invest in a good anti-virus software – just in case.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom!

The internet has given people a new way to socialise with each other and share happy memories with friends. As long as you are respectful and safe, there shouldn’t be much of an issue. The internet definitely has its advantages though, with online multiplayer gaming being proven to boost maths and science skills as well as reaction times and strategy, all whilst having fun with friends. Therefore, these positives (no matter how small) prove that the internet really doesn’t deserve the bad reputation it’s gotten in the last few years and hopefully with time and knowledge, it will become a safer and happier place for everyone.