Parents Guide to Facebook

Digital safety can be a difficult topic for all parents, not least those who aren’t very technically savvy. There is a bewildering array of apps and social media sites available, all hugely popular with the teenage age group. Take a moment to read our Parents Guide to Facebook & learn all about the safety features available on this site to help keep your child safe online.

 

What is Facebook

Facebook is a social media platform which allows for the sharing of images, text & videos. Users can add other people as ‘friends’ in an online network and share updates about themselves. Users can like, react or comment on statuses, images, videos, comments & much more on the platform. The social media platform also encompasses businesses, organisations & news outlets, making it a huge source of digital information sharing. The network allows individuals to create ‘Groups’ which are for people with mutual interests to connect and share information. Facebook has event planning & invite tools available for individuals and businesses to organise events with. There is a digital marketplace on Facebook, where individuals can sell goods & services in their local areas. People use the social platform to stay connected with friends virtually and update others on their lives, keep up to date with news and groups they are interested in & watch videos, play games & more.

Facebook has a ‘messenger’ application which is connected on desktop or optionally downloadable in app form via phone. Messenger allows users to send real time, digital messages to each other, similar to texting. Users can send images, videos, gifs, files & create or join group chats of multiple people via messenger.

How do I set up an account?

You can create an account through the Facebook homepage. Users are required to sign up with their full name & date of birth and confirm their account through an email address or a phone number. Facebook does not allow children below the age of 13 to sign up for an account.

What do I need to keep an eye on?

Minimum Age Range

Facebook does not allow children below the age of 13 to sign up for an account. Facebook requires users to enter their date of birth before signing up and bars users below this age from creating an account.

Account Privacy

  • You can set your child’s account to private so individuals can only see their profile when they have accepted their friend request. Go to your profile and in the top right corner of the screen click the small downward facing arrow. Click ‘Settings & Privacy’.
  • Next to ‘Activity’ change the option saying ‘Who can see my future posts’ to ‘Friends’. Change the option next to ‘Who can send me friend requests’ to ‘Friends of Friends’ to minimise the likelihood of people unknown to your child trying to add them.
  • Next to How people can find and contact you toggle beside Who can look you up from the email your provided and Who can look you up from the phone number you provider > Only Me
  • Go to the Profile section in the privacy settings section and change the following: Who can post on your profile > Friends, Who can see what others post on your profile > Friends, Allow others to share your post to their story > No, When you’re tagged in a post, who do you want to add to the audience of the post if they can’t already see it? > Friends
  • Enable Timeline review to allow your child to check what they are being tagged in before posts go public. You can do this by going to Timeline and tagging. Enable the section which says Review posts that you’re tagged in before the post appears on your timeline? & enable Review tags that people add to your posts before the tags appear on Facebook?

There are a host of other useful privacy settings which you can change to your satisfaction for your child. The above privacy settings are a useful, strong start to keep your child safe on this platform.

Blocking an Account

You can block another user from following you, seeing your profile or any of your content by going on their profile and going to ‘Settings’ option on the top right of the screen. You can then select the ‘Blocking’ option. This will allow your child to remove anyone from their account with who they are having any negative interactions.

Reporting an Account

If your child is uncomfortable with the behaviour of another account, has seen something that has upset them, or noticed another user engaging in bullying behavior, they can report the account to Facebook, who will review that user’s social media use. You can also report spam, groups, ads with this tool. To do this, go on their profile and select the ‘…’ symbol to the right of the post that has concerned them. There will be an option to report the activity, post, group or individual available here.

Location Sharing

It is possible for people to share their location each time they post. Make sure your child is aware of the dangers of sharing their real-time location online, and encourage them to never tag any image or status they post with the location on it.

Facebook has a ‘Parents Portal’ with further information on how to chat to your child about digital safety, pointers on their privacy features and much more useful information. Find out more here

 

Facebook Etiquette for Children

Digitally safe children are children who are not afraid to share their online experiences with their parents. If you aren’t confident online, ask your kids to teach you how to use their favourite apps. Children who can speak to you about their social media use are more likely to come to you if there is a problem. Teens enjoy social media sites as they allow them to interact with their peer group and practice self expression, while staying in touch with friends. Age-appropriate social media use that is monitored safely by parents with security features enabled can be a positive way for your children to interact with the digital world, learn new skills & interact with their peer group.

Some tips for parents to keep in mind:

  • Remind your young person that it is always good to discuss difficult or potentially volatile conversations in person, rather than online.
  • Emphasise that respecting others’ privacy is as important online as it is in person. They should not share their friend’s private information or share anything sent to them with others that would violate another’s privacy. Teaching your child the value of respecting others in the digital sphere is an important life skill for children to learn.
  • Encourage them to be a positive influence on social media. Remind them that digital interactions which are hurtful or mean can be just as damaging as face-to-face insults.
  • Learning when is the right time to leave a conversation digitally is also a good skill to teach your child, as it is easy to type a message in the heat of the moment and then regret it!
  • It is worth discussing with your teen that sending inappropriate images on Facebook or Facebook messenger is never a good idea. Images can be saved by recipients in direct message conversations and could easily be shared outside of this private conversation. A conversation that underlines that anyone requesting such images does not have your teen’s best interest at heart is an essential conversation to have.
  • Encourage your young person to talk to you if they see something or read something that they are worried or scared about – open and honest communication is really important when keeping your child safe online

More information:

https://www.familylives.org.uk/advice/your-family/online-safety/parent-s-guide-to-facebook/

https://www.highspeedtraining.co.uk/hub/parents-guide-to-facebook/

https://www.facebook.com/safety/parents

https://www.net-aware.org.uk/networks/facebook–messenger/

Keeping Children Safe Online

Many children in today’s society have easy access to the internet, whether it be using their smartphone, computers, tablets, at home, in school or with friends. UNICEF reported ‘’globally, one in three internet users is a child’’[1]. Therefore, as parents are not always in control of what their children see online, it is important that parents are educated on how to keep their children safe online. This article will focus on defining the types of online risks children maybe be subjected to, help parent to recognize the signs that their children may be at risk and provide some top tips on ‘how to keep children safe online’. 

Online Usage for Children and its Risks

Ofcom noted the number of children having an increased access to the internet[1], their figures state:

  • Children aged nine and 10 using as smartphone has almost doubled from 23% in 2018, to 50% in 2020, and by the age of 15 almost all children have one 94%
  • WhatsApp is used by almost two thirds of older children, which has increased from 43% in 2018 to 62% in 2020, Facebook 62%, Snapchat 68% and Instagram 66%
  • One in seven older children in the UK use TikTok, an app that allows users to create a 15-second video, an increase from 8% in 2018 to 13% in 2020

UNICEF[2] has interviewed more than 10,000 teenagers across 25 countries on experiences of harassment, bullying or unwanted sexual comments online. They found that more than half of participants stated their friends participated in risky behaviors. They found that eight out of 10 18 year olds worldwide believe young people are in danger online. Interestingly, most teenagers agreed that meeting new people online was important to them, and 36% stated they could strongly tell in someone was lying about their identity online and more than 80% said they could deal with sexual comments online.

UNICEF have stated that governments have a duty to coordinate responses between law enforcement, schools, and internet providers to provide better protection for children online. They have found that 94% of UK and US teenagers believed they could protect themselves on social media, perhaps showing the benefits of being educated in online safety.

Additionally, The Belfast Telegraph published an article in 2020[3], stating that two-thirds of children in NI claim to have witnessed hateful content online. In support of this, Ofcom released a study in 2019[4], on children’s media and online life, they found that 43% are increasingly concerned about the content their children view online, with Ofcom’s study focused on children’s use of well-known apps and the possibility of being bullied. The study was based on 3,500 interviews of parent and children in the UK, they found that, 51% of 12-15 years olds saw hateful content online last year and this has jumped to 62%. Therefore showing the importance of a parents need to increase their knowledge and awareness and of online safety. Ofcom’s study supports this as they found that 85% of parents interviewed stated that they were likely to speak to their children about staying safe on the internet.

This research shows the increase in the number of children having access to the internet and their increased exposure to risk.

Online Risks

The internet can be dangerous for everyone, but children in particular are more vulnerable. An online risk is the likelihood of a person being exposed to a danger or adverse situation, during their time online. Children can be at risk on the internet from people that they know or strangers.

Online risks can take place through electronic devices with access to the internet, such as:

  • Smartphones
  • Apps, for example, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.
  • Social networking sites, for example, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc.

There are specific types of risks that your children may be exposed to such as:

Cyber Bullying: this refers to bullying through sharing communication and information on the internet. Bullying itself is when a person(s) repeatedly and intentionally verbally or physically abuses another person causing them psychological or physical harm, and can be conducted by an independent or a group of people. Examples of cyber bullying include; sending hurtful messages, setting up fake profiles, sharing embarrassing stories or pictures of someone and posting hurtful material on social media. The Department of Education in 2011[1] found that 15.5% of children in Year 6 and 17% of children in Year 9 were subjected to cyber bullying in the two previous months.  In reality we know the figures are likely to be much higher as many children and young people do not disclose their experiences for fear of being ‘in trouble’ with their parents or schools.

Online Scams: this is when a person makes a dishonest or illegal plan, which often involves tricking people in order to obtain something, for example, make money or steal personal information. A person can be scammed via text message, email, fake websites, social media, etc. A Scammer may often try to sell you something, send you an urgent or alarming message, threaten, providing links to click on etc. Children and young people tend to be inexperienced and more trusting when it comes to interactions online which makes them vulnerable to online scammers.

Privacy: this refers to the risk of private information such as, personal details, location, accessing your accounts, stealing cookies. For example, your information may be given to other websites; you may be subject to identity theft or online tracking (allowing a third party to build up a profile on you based on your private information). Children may be more vulnerable to privacy online threats as result of their lack of awareness or digital skills.

Recognising the signs that your child has been exposed to an online risk

It is important parents are able to recognise signs that their children may be experiencing abuse online, for example, your child may:

  • Becomes obsessive about being online
  • Spend an increased or decreased amount of time online
  • Show emotions of sadness, anger or irritability after being online
  • Keeps secrets about what they are doing online, for example, turning off their phone or laptop when you enter the room
  • Talk about new ‘friends / people’ they’ve met online
  • Be withdrawn from family activities after using the internet
  • Receives phone calls or texts from people or numbers you don’t recognise
  • Receives gifts of packages from an unknown person
  • Is looking at inappropriate content

Tips on How to Keep Children Safe Online:

  1. Report abuse: this is an important step to take when something goes wrong in order to keep your child safe online. You should explain to your child the importance of talking when something goes wrong online and if they are feeling scared. Reassure them everything will be okay and they are not in the wrong. In the case of abuse, firstly, you should report abuse to the website or app being used (there is often a section in setting which allows you to report abuse, sometimes it may be under the tab ‘help’). If you feel the abuse is more serious and requires immediate attention it is important that you contact the police and file a report. It is important you talk to someone you trust if you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed about your child’s online safety. You can also contact a local charity such as Parenting NI based in NI or NSPCC operating Nationally if you have concerns about your young persons online use.
  2. Teach your child the importance of keeping safe online: showing your child how to keep their profiles on private (refer to Parenting NI links for specific app guides). This option is often found in settings under the tab ‘privacy’. You should also stress the importance of setting passwords and not sharing personal information online.
  3. Encourage your child to speak openly about their online activity: this will allow you to build up a trust with your child and keep control of what they are doing online.

[1] http://www.endbullying.org.uk/what-is-bullying/online-bullying/

[1] https://syncni.com/article/3655/over-half-of-ni-kids-have-seen-hateful-content-online

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jun/07/poll-reveals-teenagers-concerns-over-online-abuse

[3] https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/two-thirds-of-northern-ireland-children-have-seen-online-hate-content-report-reveals-38923950.html

[4] https://syncni.com/article/3655/over-half-of-ni-kids-have-seen-hateful-content-online

[1] Unicef (2016) https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jun/07/poll-reveals-teenagers-concerns-over-online-abuse

Helping your Child to Overcome Bullying

Helping your child to overcome bullying

Bullying can be an upsetting and frightening experience; it is prevalent among both adults and children and can have a major negative impact on a person’s overall well-being. There is much research to support and bring to light the prevalence of bullying within Northern Ireland. A study conducted by Ulster University[1] provides some evidence regarding bullying. They found that in primary schools 40% of pupils and 30% of post-primary pupils reported having been bullied at school. Worryingly, they found that 25% of primary pupils and 28% of post-primary pupils admitting to bullying others.

An independent poll commissioned by the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum[2] discovered that more than half of respondents had personally experienced bullying in the last six months. The poll found that one in three people admitted to being ‘picked on’ while almost a quarter of people admitted that bullying happened a lot. The poll also found that the majority of bullying occurred within school, on the internet or travelling to/from school.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the poll revealed that almost three quarters of participants who stated they had more than one good friend before lockdown occurred in March 2020 has dropped to 62%. 23% of people stated Covid-19 had escalated bullying particularly online. This indicates the prevalence of bullying is higher now more than ever.

Bullying, what is it?

Bullying is consistent and intentional, exploitation of power in a relationship. It is the physical or emotional hurting of one individual or group to another individual or group and can be in-person or online[3] and can be obvious or hidden (behind someone’s back).

Types of bullying:

Physical bullying involves the intentional physical harm to an individual, such as kicking, biting, spiting, punching, pushing, hair pulling, threats and damaging ones belongings.

Verbal bullying involves hurtful verbal abuse, such as name calling, insulting, racist and homophobic remarks, untiring teasing and cursing.

Social bullying this often happens behind a person’s back, where an individual or a group wishes to ruin another person’s social reputation or embarrass them, such as making up false stories, spreading nasty jokes, exclusion, making unkind faces and gestures.

Cyber bullying involves bullying behaviours across the use of technology, for example, on smartphones, tablets, laptops, social media, chat rooms, texting, websites or any online platform, in which a person or group may send hurtful messages, post negative remarks or photographs of an individual, exclusion or spread nasty rumours.

Racist bullying involves ongoing exposure to offensive and hurtful behaviours towards an individual’s skin colour, culture, religion or ethnicity, such as name calling, mocking, and physically hurting an individual, humiliation, exclusion and vandalism[4].

Emotional bullying involves consistently hurting an individual’s emotional well-being, such as teasing, name-calling, belittling, humiliating, disempowering and lying to another individual[5].

How to recognise the signs of bullying:
  • Physical attributes: unexplained cuts and bruises, loss of appetite, not sleeping, bed wetting
  • Emotional attributes: showing signs of anxiety, stress, depression, aggression
  • Social attributes: avoidance of places, such as school or social activities, very few friends, isolation, avoidance of social media

 

One Kind Word: Anti-Bullying Campaign

In 2020, the ‘One Kind Word’ campaign from the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum was a massive success with 80% of schools taking part, which included over 7.5 million children and young people

How you could promote ‘One Kind Word’:
  • Just say hello
  • Apologise when required
  • Ask someone ‘are you okay?’ if they look to be having a bad day
  • Speak to someone who looks to be excluded
  • Pay a compliment
  • Invite or organise a date with a friend

‘One Kind Word’ can make a person’s day, giving them a moment of hope and happiness, changing their perspective and break the cycle of bullying. Being kind promotes kindness from others[6].

 

Tips for helping your child to overcome bullying

  1. Listen and reassure: Put your own feelings aside and listen to what your child is telling you when talking about bullying. Allow them to explain what is happening and accept what they are saying. Praise your child for telling you and let them know
    they did the right thing getting help. Make sure your child knows this isn’t their fault, and reassure them that they are loved and valued.
  2. Find out the facts: Repeat back to them what you have heard from them about the bullying to show you have listened and ask your child how they want to move forward. If they feel involved in deciding what to do they will be less
    likely to become more stressed or anxious than they already are
  3. Stay Calm: Try to remain calm and not over-react. Your child may be
    really worried about telling you they are being bullied and could
    be scared that your reaction will make things worse
  4. Talk to your child’s school or club: Schools have a responsibility to
    protect pupils from bullying. Talk to them whether it is happening in or out
    of school. If the bullying is happening at a youth club, speak to the leader in charge. Arrange a meeting, bring any evidence you have of the bullying
    and express the impact it is having on your child. You might want to
    jot down notes from what is said at the meeting. Ask for a copy of the
    school’s Anti-Bullying policy and ask what action will be taken making sure
    everyone is in agreement with what should be done. Arrange to meet
    again to be updated of any progress
  5. Line of contact: If the bullying continues and you are not happy with the schools response from either the child’s teacher or principal, you can write to the Chair of the schools Board of Governors. If the situation continues, you can write a formal
    complaint to the Education & Library Board or CMS Board.

 

[1] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237653189_Bullying_in_Schools_A_Northern_Ireland_Study

[2] Young people reveal scale of bullying in schools – The Irish News

[3] https://anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/tools-information/all-about-bullying/understanding-bullying/definition

[4] http://www.endbullying.org.uk/what-is-bullying/prejudice-based-bullying/racial-bullying/

[5] https://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/emotional-psychological-abuse/emotional-bullying-and-how-to-deal-with-an-emotional-bully

[6] https://anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/anti-bullying-week/anti-bullying-week-2021-one-kind-word

Disconnect from Devices and Reconnect with Nature

Reset and Reconnect with family

Reset and Reconnect

Parenting Week 2021 is about celebrating parenting and will run from 18th – 22nd October this year. This year’s theme for Parenting Week, chosen by parents is Reset and Reconnect.

Parenting Week is about acknowledging and celebrating the role that parents play not only in their children’s lives but also in the wider community. Following the tough periods of public health restrictions, it is important that parents and families are encouraged to take the time to Reset and Reconnect. There is a huge value in parents taking time to hit the reset button, leaving behind the challenging year and focusing on the future. Reconnecting – with their family, friends, child’s school, faith group etc. will likely to lead to improved support networks for parents which will lead to better mental health and well being and reduced feelings of isolation.

This article is going to specifically focus on the benefits of disconnecting from devices and reconnecting with nature for the week.

Disconnect devices

Reset and Reconnect with familyTime spent online has increased dramatically in the 18 months. As a result of periods of lockdown, due to the public health situation, thousands of children were forced to stay at home and switch to remote learning, while social media use has also skyrocketed.

Based on anonymous online habits data provided by 60,000 families to Qustodio[1], website App visits in the UK were up by more than 100% in January 2021 compared with January 2020, spurred by YouTube, TikTok and BBC News. Additionally the average daily time spent on apps rose by 15%.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health[2] says that while there are no ‘safe’ amounts of screen time, and the amount of screen use that is right will vary
from family to family, screen time should be controlled. If it is not controlled, negative effects of screen time, include reducing your family’s sleep, loss of social connections and sore eyes.

Why reconnect with natureReset and Reconnect with family

With families spending so much time in front of screens over the last number of months, now is a great time to reconnect with nature. Many studies have found that there is a clear benefit for children of all ages, and adults to spend time in nature and that children who spend more time with nature are likely to be happier, more attentive, and less anxious than children who spend more time indoors.

The Child Mind Institute[3] has found that nature is good for a child’s mind as it helps them build confidence, promotes creativity and imagination, gets children moving, provides different stimulation, teaches responsibility and reduces stress and fatigue.

Ideas to reconnect with nature in NI

Autumn is the perfect time for children to enjoy the wonders of nature. The crisp autumn air, colourful crunchy leaves and weird and wonderful fungi mean it is an exciting season to go out and explore all that the natural world has to offer. We have some suggestions below of days to reconnect with nature for families in Northern Ireland:

Belfast Zoo – Belfast Zoological Gardens is located in North Belfast on the slopes of Cave Hill. This unique location provides unrivalled views across Belfast Lough with only a 15 minute drive from the city centre. The 55 acre site is home to more than 130 species, many of which are facing increasing dangers in their natural habitats.

Castle Coole – The family tracker packs are full of essentials to get you and your little ones closer to nature and explore the great outdoors at Castle Coole. It is the perfect time to start ticking off the National Trust’s 50 things to do before you are 11 ¾ activities.
The Argory – Cycling at the Argory provides a traffic and a pollution free, safe environment for children to learn a new skill.  Why not try the free-to-hire balance bikes. The balance bikes and helmets are available to hire from Visitor Reception. You don’t need to book anything as they will be given out on a first come first served basis, and the balance bikes are free to use – just turn up and get going.

Finally, remember that reconnecting with nature does not have to cost anything.  A nature walk at your local park on in your own local area can be just as fun. Pull on your wellies, grab a cosy scarf and head out to your local park with your family. During the autumn the woods come alive with colour, thanks to beautiful autumn leaves.  Why not have a ‘senses’ walk and focus on what you can hear, what you can see, what you can smell… gather different materials like fallen leaves to make a collage with at home.  Spending time together as a family, taking a break from the devices and reconnecting with nature will undoubtedly have many benefits for you and your family.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/22/children-health-screen-times-covid-crisis-sleep-eyesight-problems-digital-devices
[2] https://www.rcpch.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2018-12/rcpch_screen_time_parent_fact_sheet_-_final.pdf
[3] https://childmind.org/article/why-kids-need-to-spend-time-in-nature/

Single Parents Day

 

We are proud to be celebrating Single Parents Day on Monday 21st March 2022 and standing with Single Parents

We’ll be sharing valuable resources across all of our social media, so keep an eye out. Single Parents’ Day is a chance to raise awareness of the struggles and hardship faced by many single parents, but more than that, it is an opportunity to celebrate their incredible strength, love and resilience.

​Single Parents’ Day is a day for everyone to stand with single parents and show them how amazing they are. A day for single parents to reflect on all they have achieved and overcome, and for the world to show them how valued they are.
We’re partnering with Gingerbread, One Family Ireland and One Parent Family Scotland to celebrate Single Parents Day. Check out what they’re up to during the week too!

Don’t forget that if you’re in need of additional assistance you can always call our support line – we are here for you!

Support Line: 0808 8010 722
Available Monday – Thursday 9:30 am – 3:30 pm and Friday 9:30 – 12:30 pm

We would love to hear your personal stories to help us celebrate Single Parents Day and #StandWithSingleParents! If you would like to share your own story or that of an amazing single parent you know, get in touch!

Follow the #StandWithSingleParents #SingleParentsDay2022 hashtags to see what we get up to during the week. 

Email claref@parentingni.org to share your story

Parents Guide to Instagram

In our increasingly digital society, it can be difficult to navigate what apps & social networks are safe for your children to enjoy. Many parents find keeping up to date with the newest apps that appeal to children confusing and are not sure how to keep their child safe while they use them. Take a moment to read our Parents Guide to Instagram & learn all about the safety features available on one of the most popular apps of the moment!

What is Instagram

Instagram is a photo-sharing app that has exploded in popularity in the last few years, becoming a worldwide sensation that is used by a wide variety of age groups. Instagram is particularly popular among Teens & Tweens as it has a number of features that allow them to express themselves online in entertaining ways. You can share time-limited videos, share private messages with individuals or in groups and share images. You can also like & comment on other individuals’ photos or videos. Instagram allows you to follow your favourite celebrities & directly interact with their lives via liking and commenting on their posts. It offers real-time video and photo sharing options on ‘Instagram Stories’ with a variety of fun filters, stickers & music options that can be added before posting.

How do I set up an account?

You first have to download the app via the iOS store for apple phones or the google play store for android. You will need an email to register, then create a username and password & upload your profile photo.

What do I need to keep an eye on?

Minimum Age Range

The minimum age range for Instagram is 13 years old. Instagram requires users to enter their date of birth before signing up and bars users below this age from creating an account.

Account Privacy

You can set your child’s account to private so they have to approve anyone who would like to follow them before they can see any of their images. With this feature, they can also remove any of their followers at any time. This can stop strangers from seeing anything on their account. On your profile page, tap the top right symbol depicting three horizontal lines. On the bottom of your screen, you will now see a gear symbol that says ‘Settings’. Tap this and then tap the ‘Privacy’ option with a lock symbol to the left of it. You can now select the ‘Private account’ option by tapping the toggle bar.

Blocking an Account

You can block another user from following you, seeing your profile or any of your content by going on their profile and tapping the ‘…’ option on the top right of the screen. You can then select the ‘Block’ option. This will allow your child to remove anyone from their account with who they are having any negative interactions.

Reporting an Account

If your child is uncomfortable with the behaviour of another account, has seen something that has upset them, or noticed another user engaging in bullying behavior, they can report the account to Instagram, who will review that user’s social media use. To do this, go on their profile and select the ‘…’ symbol on the top right of the screen. You will then be able to select the ‘Report’ option.

Turn on Filters

You can turn on the ‘Hide Offensive Comments’ option which automatically filters inappropriate or harmful language on the app. Go to the Settings bar & tap ‘Privacy’ then tap ‘Comments’ and toggle on the ‘Hide Offensive comments’ option. You can also toggle on the ‘Manual Filter’ which allows your child to type in words or phrases they would prefer not to see on the app.

Time on the app

Instagram allows users to track how much time they are spending on the app, which can be useful for parents to discourage unhealthy or obsessive device usage. To check this, proceed to your profile and then to your ‘Settings’ bar. Tap ‘Your Activity’ and you will be able to see the average amount of time spent on the app that week. You can also take the opportunity to set up a ‘Daily Reminder’ here which will send a notification once your child has reached the allotted time allowed on the app each day, which can help remind your child to disengage occasionally. You can also mute notifications in the ‘Your Activity’ section, which can stop the constant notifications which can often tempt your child to pick up their phone again and again as the day goes on. Social media can be addictive for children and teens, so try and emphasise the transitory nature of online interaction. It can be useful to talk to your child about the importance and satisfaction of face-to-face communication and remind them that relationships outside of the digital sphere are what are most important.

Location Sharing

It is possible for Instagrammers to share their location each time they post an image. Make sure your child is aware of the dangers of sharing their real-time location online, and encourage them to never tag an image they post with the location on it.

Instagram Etiquette for Children

Teaching your child good digital etiquette and emphasising the potential permanency of conversations online is important. Digitally safe children are children who are not afraid to share their online experiences with their parents. Talking to your children about how to use social media tools safely in an open and honest way is the key to maintaining an open line of communication on this subject. If you are inquisitive about their social media use in a positive way, they are more likely to open up to you if they are experiencing any issues. Social media can be a great way to stay in touch with friends and a form of self-expression for children and allow them to interact positively with other members of their peer group. When age-appropriate & managed correctly by parents with security features enabled, social media apps can be a positive experience for your children.

Some points to keep in mind:

● Remind them that it is always good to discuss difficult or potentially volatile conversations in person, rather than online.

● Emphasise that respecting others’ privacy is as important online as it is in person. They should not share their friend’s private information or share anything sent to them with others that would violate another’s privacy. Teaching your child the value of respecting others in the digital sphere is an important life skill for children to learn.

● Encourage them to be a positive influence on social media. Remind them that digital interactions which are hurtful or mean can be just as damaging as face-to-face insults.

● Learning when is the right time to leave a conversation digitally is also a good skill to teach your child, as it is easy to type a message in the heat of the moment and then regret it!

● It is worth discussing with your teen that sending inappropriate images on Instagram is never a good idea. Images can be saved by recipients in direct message conversations and could easily be shared outside of this private conversation. A conversation with your child that underlines that anyone requesting such images does not have your teen’s best interest at heart is an essential conversation to have with your teenager.

● Encourage your young person to talk to you if they see something or read something that they are worried or scared about – open and honest communication is really important when keeping your child safe online

More information:
https://about.instagram.com/community/parents
https://www.connectsafely.org/instagram/
https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/parents-ultimate-guide-to-instagram
https://www.net-aware.org.uk/networks/instagram/
https://www.internetmatters.org/resources/instagram-safety-a-how-to-guide-for-parents/

Want to read more of our digital safety guides? 

Parents Guide to Snapchat 

Parents Guide to Tik Tok 

Parent’s Guide to TikTok

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a short form video sharing app, which allows users to watch and share videos created other creators on the app. TikTok has exploded in popularity from 2019 and continues to grow, particularly among younger users who are drawn in through snappy editing tools, easy-to-add chart music features & a variety of dance and lip-syncing challenges encouraged by the app.

How do I set up an account?

Download the app from your preferred app store. Agree to the terms of service when prompted. Go to ‘Me’ on the home screen. You can register with a phone number or email and will be prompted to share your age – users under 18 need a parent or guardian to approve the use of the app before continuing. If your child is aged 13 – 15, their account will automatically be set up as private. You can add other users by searching for them via the search bar or by linking your contacts, which make following your friends on this app fairly simple.

What should parents look out for?

Additional Security Features for Parents

Parents can use ‘Restricted Mode’ for added control over their childs account or turn on ‘Family Saftey Mode’ to pair with their child’s account for an added layer of security. You can enable Family Safety Mode by downloading the app & creating your own account, then access the ‘…’ option on your child’s user profile. Sync your account with their account through the QR code presented on the app.

This includes a variety of new ‘Digital Wellbeing Measures’ which include:

Screen Time Management Limits
Direct Messages: Limit who can send messages to the connected account or turn off direct messaging completely.
Restricted Mode: Restrict the appearance of content that may not be appropriate for your child.

These features are a great way for parents to keep their child safe on this app. You can enable Digital Wellbeing Measures by going on to your child’s account and selecting the ‘…’ option in the top right of the screen. Select ‘Digital Wellbeing’ and enable any of the above measures for added safety.

Contacts
You can make your child’s account private, which will limit the interactions they have with people they don’t know on this social media platform. To do so, go to the profile section and tap the ‘…’ option. Change this to ‘Private’. You could also change the settings on the section for comments, direct messages and ‘duets’ to ‘Friends’ only to further limit the potential of strangers using this platform to contact your children.

Blocking another user
If your child would like to block another user who they do not know, or is bothering them they can take the following steps. A blocked user will not be able to follow you. They also will not be able to view, like, or comment on your videos.

To block another user:

Go to Profile tab of user you want to block
Tap Settings ‘…’ icon in the top right corner
Tap Block

Moderation and abuse reporting
If your child has seen something which upsets them or they have found disturbing on this app, they can take the following steps to report it to TikTok for removal:
Report a profile: Go to the profile of the account you want to report. Next, tap the ‘…’ option in the top right corner & then tap ‘Report’.
Report a video: Open the video, Tap the Share icon (right arrow), then tap ‘Report’.
Report a comment: Tap the comment you’d like to report, then tap ‘Report’.
Report a message: Open the conversation, then tap the ‘…’ icon at the top right of the screen, then tap ‘Report’

Duets

The ‘Duet’ feature is super popular with teens on Tiktok. It allows two users to perform a virtual duet together, without being together in the same place. One user starts the duet by creating and posting a video. Their friend then taps the ‘…’ icon at the bottom right of the video and selects ‘start duet now!’ This opens a new video for the friend to duet alongside the original video.

Digital Etiquette
Teaching your child good digital etiquette and emphasising the potential permanency of conversations online is important.

Remind them that it is always good to discuss difficult or potentially volatile conversations in person, rather than online.

Emphasise that respecting others’ privacy is as important online as it is in person. They should not share their friend’s secrets or share anything sent to them with others that would violate another’s privacy. Teaching your child the value of respecting others in the digital sphere is an important life skill for children to learn.

Learning when is the right time to leave a conversation digitally is also a good skill to teach your child, as it is easy to type a message in the heat of the moment and then regret it!

Lots of children are enamored with the idea of becoming ‘TikTok famous’ as the influence of social media stars grows in certain age groups. They can quickly become very caught up in ‘likes’ and online interaction. Remind them of the value of being themselves & fostering their current talents that exist outside the virtual sphere while keeping an eye on their screen time.

Don’t be afraid to allow your child (once at an appropriate age) to explore social media. Our children are growing up to be extremely digitally savvy. They will naturally want to explore what is out there and connect with their friends on what is new and exciting. Digitally safe children are children who are not afraid to share their online experiences with their parents. Be open to learning about new technologies that they are interested in sharing with you, while consistently teaching your children to remain respectful of themselves and others online.

More information:
https://www.tiktok.com/safety?lang=en

https://newsroom.tiktok.com/en-gb/family-safety-mode-and-screentime-management-in-feed

https://www.connectsafely.org/tiktok/

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/parents-ultimate-guide-to-tiktok

https://whttps://www.parents.com/kids/safety/internet/digital-manners-to-teach-your-kids/

 

Parents report a significant drop in their mental and emotional wellbeing due to Covid19

Parenting NI are aware of a surge in need regarding mental health and wellbeing services for parents and their children, yet there was a conspicuous lack of necessary data to understand what is needed to better support parents in the region. Their recent focussed study aims to fill in these gaps in knowledge and learn from parents what they need most regarding this issue. The report from the charity encompasses views from 262 parents from across the region, gathered in a mix of interviews and online survey responses during a month-long investigative period. The report sheds a light on the heavy impact of covid on families in NI. A total of 88% of parents reported that the pandemic had affected their wellbeing. Parents also felt that the pandemic was taking a heavy toll on their children’s emotional health and wellbeing too, with 47% stating it has affected them ‘a lot’, and 24% suggesting it affected them ‘a little’. 

Interestingly, the report found that a number of parents did experience some positive effects from the pandemic, namely spending more time at home as a family, however most noted that this was relevant to the first lockdown and subsequent lockdowns had been much more challenging.

“The change of pace has been positive for our family. The extra time spent together has boosted all our mental and emotional well-being”

However, notably the experience of families during the pandemic has been largely negative. The interviews highlighted many of the unique challenges children faced:

Parents expressed a desire for more support around emotional health and wellbeing, both for themselves and for their children. When looking at the support available, the majority (53%) of families told us they were not aware of help or support available to them. Many parents felt support was too limited or did not exist and wanted improvements in this area:

“Easily accessible information to support groups and funding from government for these organisations to provide these information and support sessions”

There has been an increased number of issues experienced by parents in regards to mental health provision and intervention services. Some of the parents surveyed wanted there to be more help offered in this area. Numerous parents reported that they had experienced difficulties finding help for themselves and their families. Many families have been unaware that support exists, and due to this have struggled. Communication from statutory services was often experienced by parents as confusing or lacking detail, which led to a lack of awareness of the support available.

Signposting between organisations could be capitalised to fill a need here to better support families. 

Charlene Brooks, Parenting NI CEO warns that support for children and parents need to be made available now “A proactive approach is needed – Parents are struggling with the weight of the challenges that this pandemic has imposed upon them and their families, and they need help now.  There needs to be clear and widespread communication about the support and services that are available with services being adequately resourced to meet demands”.

Read the full report here: 

Read now

Family Finances

2020 has been a year like no other. Almost no family across the world has been unaffected, either directly or indirectly by the unprecedented challenges posed by a global pandemic, multiple lockdowns, and ongoing restrictions. One area that many families have found themselves in particular difficulties is finances. For many families, being on furlough or being without work unexpectedly has created a real strain on their finances. This is compounded by the holiday season, and a general desire to make what will inevitably be an unusual and in some ways distressing Christmas ‘more special’ by buying more gifts. This article will look at ways to explain the realities of finances to children, without scaring them or causing undue distress.

Just as there is no ‘easy’ way to have financial problems, there is no easy way to explain them to children. Parents will often try to ‘shelter’ their children and decide to hide money problems from them. This is understandable, as the child cannot do anything about the situation, and parents will want to spare them the worry. However, this secrecy may cause issues for the family down the line and some experts suggest parents should talk more openly about their family’s money situation. While it is important not to scare or worry children, keeping them in the dark might lead to further stress or strain down the line. Just like adults, children can make better decisions if they have a better understanding of the situation.

For younger children, parents should remember that you are not ‘depriving’ your child by setting limits and living within your means. While the newest toys and designer clothing seems very important, they are much less important than healthy food, heat or electricity in your home. Explaining to your child that they cannot have a new toy now – but to wait until a holiday or birthday is a good way to teach them to delay gratification. This will make each new gift more special and help to emphasise the value of the item.

For slightly older children, parents should empathise and relate to their child’s situation. Tell them that there are things you would like to have but cannot afford right now. Do not say this in a way that the child may blame themselves (for example saying ‘if I didn’t have to buy you a new bicycle, I’d…’). Instead, you can both set goals to save for and celebrate together when you meet them. Setting limits and rules and sticking to them for money is a good way to encourage good financial behaviour going forward.

If children understand that money is not limitless, their expectations will be more in line with what is realistic, particularly for your family. This can naturally be more difficult under certain circumstances, for example at Christmas. A child might not understand why their family can or cannot afford a particular toy, they might struggle to comprehend why some children get more toys or gifts than others. Exactly how your family deals with this issue is up to you as a parent as often traditions are unique to each family. However, you might want to explain that every families situation is different and use it as an opportunity to discuss the importance of spending time together and how fortunate you are that you are able to do that.  As children grow up it is much more likely that it will be the trip to the park for a jump in muddy puddles or the rolling down the hill in the snow rather than how many presents they got that they remember.

Even if you are not facing difficulties, children are remarkably preceptive and will soon understand signs of wealth or poverty. They may ask, for example why they (or their classmates) get free school meals. They may wonder why some children’s clothes or school supplies are not as good as others. While primary school may be a little early to have a conversation about post-industrial capitalism, it is a good idea to speak about some of the realities that your child will encounter. Even if you are not trying to explain your own circumstances, taking the chance to talk about money, budgeting, poverty and unfairness is an excellent way to foster empathy. This way, you can encourage your child to not flaunt any expensive gifts, and to not tease those less fortunate than themselves. Instead, they can be taught the value of sharing and importance of non-financial things.

Teaching your child the value of money early can be useful as well. Many parents will shy away from sharing particular details that a child may innocently ask – how much dad makes a month, how much does mummy have in the saving account, or if granny is ‘rich’. These simple questions might be rude if an adult asked – but a child has no concept of the societal aspect of wealth. They do not know why someone might not want to discuss their salary. Parents should share as much as they think is appropriate, but also explain why someone might want to keep those things private.

Teaching children simple monetary concepts at appropriate ages can help them to understand value later in life. As early as 5 or 6, children begin to start to understand simple things like identifying different coins and counting change. This presents an excellent opportunity to talk to them about the value of money and to teach them that it does not grow on trees (or appear like magic from an ATM).

Giving them a small amount of money, particularly tied to suitable chores can help them to understand the relationship between work and money. Many parents will be tempted to force children to save their money. However, it is also important to recognise that if they never spend even a little of ‘their’ money they will not necessarily understand the true value of it. Having a savings account when they turn 18 is good, but if they have no concept of costs it may not last as long as you would hope. On the other hand, once a child has experienced how quickly shopping can drain an account they might ration or save for more valuable purchases.

One very important thing that you can do as a parent is not get caught up in ‘competition’ with other families. No one benefits from parents putting immense pressure on themselves to buy all of the newest, most expensive items (aside from the manufacturers). It can be difficult to ignore it when your child’s friend has something that your child wants, but you cannot afford. Just remember that you do not know the reality of their family’s situation. Comparing yourself and stressing over not being ‘good enough’ because you cannot afford a toy or trip does no one any good. Focus on meeting the basic needs of your children, and teaching them to be financially literate. They may complain about not getting what they want, but you are setting them up for success in the future.

If you are struggling with talking to your child about finances or money issues, you can always get parenting support on the Parenting NI Supportline on 0808 8010 722.