|“Is your child using Social Media to Interact with Online Strangers?”|
|Practically every single Internet user in the world uses social media platforms today.
1. Toddlers watching YouTube
2. Preschoolers huddling over multiplayer Minecraft games
3. Primary school children sharing photos & chatting over WhatsApp
4. Early teens consuming & sharing content on Facebook. It was not too long ago when parents probably adhered to age restrictions on social media platforms more tightly.
|“How can anyone stay away from online strangers in the current digital landscape?”
Research by Kingmaker Consultancy shows that about 1in 8 upper primary girls have met online strangers in real life. 1 in 5 upper primary boys do likewise in the year 2014. When teenagers go to secondary schools, almost 1 in 4 males and females report experiences of meeting online strangers.
The age restrictions do not serve any effective regulation, or child protection. They merely attempt to prevent businesses from collecting personal information from minors. While that may “shield” children from some privacy issues, it does not help protect children from online strangers.
In fact, the very nature of social media promotes interaction between users and online strangers. Most social media platforms work on increasing user interaction (with apps, content & people) to collect data. The more users interact with each other, the more data is being collected, and drives advertising revenues on social media. Social Media platforms are certainly not “safe playgrounds” nor are they “walled-gardens”.
|“What are most common ways your child could be interacting with online strangers?”
|“What can parents do in such a scenario?”
It must first be accepted that some parents regard online interaction to be a bigger concern for Internet Safety. It is also probably true that female students are generally more vulnerable. Those who are risk takers are also more likely to attempt the unsafe. For these cases, parents can do the following:
Yet for other parents who decide to mediate with lesser restrictions, they may want to consider:
Originally written for Innova Primary School.