Children and young people are spending more and more time in online environments, with smart phones, laptops and hand-held devices that allow them to communicate in different ways. Although the internet has had a major impact on society over the past 20 years, today's children and young people have grown up online without either them or their parents understanding the potential risks they face on a daily basis. The internet can be fun and useful but you and your child need to have an understanding of the online environment and how to make it safe. Making sure your child knows the online dangers is just as important as teaching them to cross the road safely.
To enable parents and carers to understand some of the risks, you should try thinking of social media as a physical place like a bar, restaurant, cafe or shop - another ‘place’ where young people go to socialise and meet up with friends. To help keep them safe, parents need to take an active interest in what they are doing, where they are going and who they are interacting with – in the same way that you would if they were going into town, to the sports centre, or any other physical place. Would you let your young person or child go out for the afternoon to Glasgow or Edinburgh without adequate supervision or would you let your 14-year-old go to a bar for a few hours by themselves? Make sure you are switched on to the ways young people are communicating with each other.
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