Amongst the many pressures facing children in today’s society, social media is one that is proving to have a profound negative effect on their wellbeing.
ChildLine has recently reported an increase in their yearly sessions; going from 23,530 in 1986/87 to 286,812 in 2014/15, whilst also expressing concern that many children are now dealing with issues that just weren’t present 30 years ago.
Online issues are becoming a more common occurrence amongst children, with research finding that feeling the need to portray the perfect life on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram is contributing to the sadness children are feeling.
As well as cyber-bullying, the element of popularity via social media plays a large part in the users lives, with one child stating: “I use social media sometimes but that just makes me more depressed as I hardly have any friends online and no one likes my posts/photos.”
Amongst its research, ChildLine has also revealed that children are having to deal with loneliness, low self-esteem and unhappiness because of internet use.
Although the internet can provide children with the confidence and opportunity to engage where they normally wouldn’t, it can also pose as a very real danger to the younger generation.
How to deal with bullying online
Knowing how to deal with any form of bullying online or any unwanted/inappropriate comments is an important part of staying safe online. Here are a few key steps to ensuring you can deal with online bullying:
- Report: Report the bullying via the social media platform to begin with. Sites such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have online forms to complete if you are experiencing bullying online or inappropriate behaviour.
- Remove: By either deleting or blocking the bully/s from the social media platform you can prevent them from further contacting you on that particular site. Apply this across all necessary social media accounts.
- Retain: Keep evidence of any online bullying, this could come in the form of print screens of messages, images and conversations. Ensuring you have evidence of the bullying will help when/if reporting the problem further.
Protecting young people online
Ensuring children are taking precautions whilst online is one way of teaching them the dangers of the internet and how to use social media safely. Here are a few simple steps:
- Ensure privacy settings are set to ‘friends only’ on Facebook and ‘private’ on Twitter and Instagram.
- Check photo albums and image uploads on Facebook are set to ‘friends only’.
- Turn off location settings on all accounts as you can easily reveal your location alongside a tweet or status.
- Do not include and personal details such as phone number or address on any social media profiles.
For further information, take a look at our guide here on helping your teenager manage their personal information online.