E-Safety Bulletin #3
Social media; how, what, why?
A recent Ofcom report highlighted that children aged between 5-15 years old are spending a whopping 15 hours a week on the internet. Much of this time is spent on social media but how are children using social media and why? Last week, Ms Daly and I ran an information session for 4th Form parents. We aimed to answer these questions as well as provide some practical advice on how to support our young people in using social media safely and responsibly. The full presentation can be viewed below, however here are some key points from the session:
Our survey sample of approximately 140 pupils here at the College shows that the most popular platforms are Instagram, YouTube and SnapChat. Results show that our young people are using on average 4 different social media platforms on a regular basis –with some using up to 10 per week!
Facebook, Instagram and YouTube now all have live video streaming capabilities which allow users to broadcast live, unscreened videos on social media. Periscope, Live.ly and Twitch are specific live streaming apps. Twitch is gaming focussed, allowing users to share on screen gaming in real time. During 4th Form assembly last week nearly all of the pupils said they had watched other people’s live videos whilst around half of them said they had posted live videos themselves. So this is definitely a trend to be aware of.
There are some social media apps to be cautious of, although in our survey very few pupils said they used these regularly;
- House Party - a video calling app that allows up to 8 people to chat at the same time, however anyone can be added to the chat, unless they are ‘locked’.
- Yellw - a social network which allows users to find ‘friends’ based on age and location. Dubbed ‘Tinder for teens’, it is an easy way for young people to chat directly to strangers.
- Monkey - similar to chat roulette when you are randomly selected to video chat with a stranger for 10 secs, however you can add more time if you want.
- Omegle - like Monkey, this service randomly pairs users in one-on-one chat sessions and video chats. It's tag line is actually 'Talk to strangers' and you do not have to create an account to start chatting.
There were two recurring themes when our pupils were asked why they use social media; 1) communicating with friends 2) learning about what’s going on in the world.
Generally young people are using social media in a safe, positive and often creative way. Unfortunately there are however issues caused by its rising popularity. Problems with inappropriate content, sexting, cyberbullying, online reputations, tech addiction, mental health and self-esteem, and even fake news are all generated by the use of social media. In addition there are a small minority of people who want to exploit the technology and the vulnerability of children to groom or radicalise them.
There are lots of settings and controls that you as parents can set up to filter inappropriate websites, content and games as well as help to protect your child’s privacy on social media. One of the most important settings to look at is how location data is being used on your child’s mobile devices so that their whereabouts is not inadvertently recorded on social media. The following pages on Internet Matters provide some really useful guidance on how to set these up;
Most social networks allow you to report individual users, posts and comments within the app or website. It is worth familiarising yourself with this process for the social media platforms your child is using. If you have any child online sexual abuse concerns, you can report these directly to CEOP – the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre via their website www.ceop.police.uk/safety-centre/. It is also advisable to talk to your child about Childline to explain that they can always be contacted if they feel they cannot talk to you or another trusted adult. All pupils have the Childline details printed in their planner.
More than anything, just be parents! Strip away the technology. If your child is going out, you ask where they are going, with whom, why and tell them when they have to be home by. It is no different when they are using the internet. Talk to them openly about the different apps they are using and why they are using them. Internet Matters also has some useful tips on how to talk to teens about their social media usage;
Just like in the ‘real’ world, set rules and boundaries; agree limits for screen time, put in place routines – especially at night time. A recent survey by the Journal of Youth Studies suggest that as many as 1 in 5 teens are waking up in the night to check their social media! My last E-Safety bulletin on digital detoxing has some good tips on how to combat tech addiction or download a free copy of our Digital Parenting Guide for some expert advice from Dr Neelam Parmar.
We aim to run some further information sessions for parents in the future however if you have any questions regarding social media or safeguarding, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me or Ms Daly initially via e-mail at email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org .
Digital Learning Support Advisor