It has been impossible to avoid the news of late, which has shone a light on the impact of social media on children. Although many would argue that social media has its place in society, others would state that it is a major contributor to mental health issues in young people.
Further concerns were raised for me when I saw the headline in the Independent this week:
80% of children don't feel safe on social media, study finds
‘The findings, published by the NSPCC and O2 from a poll of 1,696 children and young people, showed that among the sites children rated to be most risky were ASKfm, Omegle and IMVU, as well as Facebook, prompting the NSPCC and O2 to urge parents to look beyond the ‘big names’ and find out about the lesser known apps their children are using.
One 16-year-old girl said of ASKfm: ‘It had no strict controls which led to lots of hurtful messages being spread about people, which I believe contributed to people self-harming or just feeling negative about themselves.’
A 15-year-old girl who reviewed IMVU meanwhile said: ‘There are some people on the site who are very unstable and vulnerable who are taken advantage of.’
The findings are revealed in the latest Net Aware guide, the UK’s only parents’ guide to 39 of the most popular social media sites, apps, and games used by young people, produced by the NSPCC.
While 87 per cent (1,470) of young people nonetheless said they knew how to keep themselves safe online, the NSPCC encouraged parents to visit Net Aware so that they could stay up to speed with apps and their safety issues so that they could help their child protect themselves online.
‘It is vital parents know about their child’s online world and regularly talk with their children about how to get help if they need it. We all know that the internet develops at breakneck speed and it can feel nearly impossible to keep up with all of the constantly changing sites, games, and apps that young people use.’
In the same week, BBC news ran a story titled:
Everyone's always snap chatting you
Anne Longfield said she was worried many pupils, in particular when transitioning to secondary school, became anxious about their identity and craved likes and comments for validation. Her study said children aged eight to 12 found it hard to manage the impact. The report into the effects of social media on eight to 12-year-olds claimed many children were over-dependent on ‘likes’ and comments for social validation.
It is this ‘social validation’ which can force young people to question their self-worth, thus impacting on their mental well-being, despite the reality that the ‘likes’ they may receive are highly superficial.
As a school we take our role in teaching young people about self-esteem seriously and you will be aware from previous blogs that Denefield School prioritises mental health within our community. Through the tutor time critical thinking programme, our CHARACTER agenda and the general ethos of the school, we aim to create an environment which encourages students to question stereotypical views and embrace difference. The CHARACTER values are integral to how successfully this will be embedded over time.
At parent/carers’ request, and to further promote discussions around safety online, we have invited Will Alderson from Microsoft to present to parents/carers at our Parents’ Forum on Tuesday 6 February 2018 from 7.00pm-8.00pm. It would be good to see you there if you can attend; I have no doubt that it will be of value.
In addition, please remember that there is a section on our website under the tab ‘Parents’, titled ‘Keeping Children Safe Online’ where you can find a number of links to support you and your child. I have also included the net aware guide link below, which is referenced in the article from the Independent January 2018. https://www.net-aware.org.uk/networks/?order=-popularity
Equally you may be interested in signing up for a webinar titled ‘Online safety’ which Ofsted are running on Wednesday 31 January 2018 from 7.00pm – 8.00pm. To find out more and to register for free, go to: bit.ly/OnlineSafetyWebinar.
I am sure that by continuing to work in partnership over issues such as this, we can reduce the anxieties that many young people have felt at some time.
Dates for your diary:
Year 8: KS4 options form return deadline 26 January 2018
Risking it all: e-safety drama production for Year 9 29 January 2018
Alumni network: Year 9 and Sixth Form employability workshops 1 February 2018
PTA Family Bingo 2 February 2018
Year 8 History visit to Ypres 2 February 2018
Parents’ Forum – Keeping Children Safe Online 6 February 2018
Half term break 12-16 February 2018
Uniform sales event, 4.00pm-7.00pm 21 February 2018
Mrs L Hillyard
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