Digital Parenting is about giving people the practical, expert advice that will help them when it comes to talking to their children about the online world. It also informs them of the technology they need to be talking to their children about.
It can be easy to say, ‘Well, we’ve been doing this a long time, do we need to do it again?’
Then you look at the way things move forward and think, ‘Yes, this is still a big, live issue and we need to be doing our bit.’
The debate around how quickly social media sites should be taking down offensive content, for example, reminds you of the importance and relevance of what we do.
Digital resilience is key
We have to help children understand how they can keep safe, what can happen online that could cause them stress, and how to deal with it.
It’s about educating children, parents and the whole community about how they can make good decisions online, and about applying critical thinking to what they see and what they read.
Reaching millions of families
The last issue of Digital Parenting was sent out to 1.5 million families. I’m immensely proud of the fact it’s had such a tremendous impact.
I’ve received some great feedback from people I’ve bumped into – not just parents, but people who are experts in the field who say, “I’ve read your latest version and it’s great; it’s got some really good information in there.”
It’s helped my family, too
I had a conversation with one of my children the other day about a singing app she’d been using. We talked about the settings and she realised she hadn’t set them up in the safest way. I knew what to look for and how to sort it out. I don’t think I’d have been able to do that if I hadn’t read this magazine.
It also helped me to have a conversation with her in a way that means she will tell me in the future if anything goes wrong. I think it’s really important not to punish your children when they’ve made an innocent mistake or done something stupid. If you do, they’re never going to come and tell you again if they get into trouble.
My one piece of advice
Learning how to turn off notifications is one of the things that all parents and their children can benefit from. It’s really annoying if the phones all ping at the same time in the family WhatsApp group.
Did you know?
Vodafone devices have a content bar, which blocks access to websites with 18+-rated material. This is turned on by default and can only be disabled if someone 18 or older gets in touch with us and requests that it be turned off. Any listed child-abuse sites are blocked via the Internet Watch Foundation, which is updated daily.
More than 4 million copies of Digital Parenting have been distributed to families since its launch in 2009
Helping one another
Tessy Ojo, CEO of The Diana Award, describes the organisation’s great work against cyberbullying and its Anti-Bullying Ambassadors Programme
All forms of bullying can have a lasting impact on a young person’s confidence, self-esteem and mental health. Unlike other bullying, cyberbullying can’t be left at the school gate – it has an impact on a young person’s online life, which can’t be easily switched off.
At the heart of our work is the belief that young people are the best instigators of real, sustainable change in the lives of other young people. Therefore, we enable and support young people to take positive social action on issues that affect them.
Our peer-led Anti-Bullying Ambassadors Programme has seen more than 24,000 young people trained as Anti-Bullying Leads in their schools, communities and online. Our training empowers young people and staff to change attitudes, behaviours and the culture of bullying. It gives young people the tools to support their peers and the ability to regulate their own behaviour.
In partnership with Vodafone, The Diana Award also delivers the Be Strong Online Ambassadors Programme. These ambassadors lead interactive sessions with students in schools and run whole-school awareness campaigns to increase their peers’ digital resilience – the capacity to cope with adversity online.
Cyberbullying is distressing for any young person. But they don’t have to suffer in silence.
What you can do
Children can be worried that by telling their parents they will be banned from social media or their devices will be taken away. Reassure them that this isn’t the case. Instead, go through these useful tips as recommended by Respect Me, the Scottish anti-bullying charity.
1 Set social media accounts to private and help them delete offensive comments.
2 I Go through abusive messages or images and ask them to show you any they receive in the future. If messages or images can be construed as illegal, keep copies, dates, times, email addresses or phone numbers and take them to the police.
3 Turn off location settings so bullies can’t find them in the real world.
4 Block users on apps, or the phone numbers of anyone bullying them via text messages.
5 If the cyberbullies go to your child’s school, inform a teacher, and ask them for help to implement a plan of action.
For more information on this and what to do if you think your child is bullying someone else, go to www.respectme.org.uk
The Diana Award support centre also has advice for children and young people. Go to www.antibullyingpro.com/support-centre
Vodafone’s #BeStrong anti-bullying emojis help children and young people support friends who have been bullied. Download them from www.vodafone.com/be-strong-online-emojis