I’ve recently had ‘the talk’ with Miss Frugal.
Not the birds and the bees talk, that was years ago and to be fair that was more her sharing her horror with me about what someone had told her at school and me putting her straight on a few things that she’s heard.
No, the talk we had was about the dangers of the internet and social media because, as much as I hate it, I’ve come to realise that I can’t monitor everything that she does and even if I could, there are plenty of ways that she could get around my rules if she wanted to seeing as she can access the internet in so many different places these days.
Her mobile phone is like an extension of her arm at times as she keeps in touch with her friends in ways that we never even imagined when I was her age and captures her life on camera.
As much as I don’t have a problem with her having a mobile, it does bring with it a whole world of new parenting concerns that I have to think about but I hope that the talk we’ve had has helped her to understand the dangers and to stay safe online.
Here’s the main things we talked about….
1) People may not be who they say they are so a photo of a young girl who wants to be your friend and has loads in common with you could very well be a bad person.
2) Just because it’s on the internet in writing doesn’t mean it’s true so it’s important to always check before believing something and certainly before sharing something online.
3) Once something is on social media it may never be completely deleted – someone could share it or screenshot it so the rule here is that if she wouldn’t want me to see it then don’t post it.
4) Words on a screen don’t necessarily convey the same emotion that they’re spoken with and can very easily hurt someone’s feelings when you don’t mean to. Someone once asked Miss Frugal why she hadn’t liked their photo on Instagram and she simply replied ‘because I don’t like you’ which she thought was funny but actually when she read it back she realised it looked mean and deleted it but the message had still been sent and could well have hurt someone’s feelings.
5) We have a two message rule in this house which means you can only message someone twice before they reply to you. For us, this applies on all social media channels and on text messaging too and prevents hassling people who might be busy or not wanting to talk for some reason.
6) All social media accounts are private and the only people who she can follow or accept follow requests from without asking me specifically are people who she knows from school. She has to ask me for all other requests including celebrities as there are so many fake accounts out there.
7) Never post photos of other people online unless you know that they’re OK with it and don’t post embarrassing photos or photos you wouldn’t want sharing if it was you in the picture. Also, photos should never include enough of her school uniform for anyone to be able to identify which school she goes to and she must never share any of her personal details.
8) If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all and if you don’t like something then that’s what the x is for at the corner of your page, just click it and move on.
9) Things are not always what they seem and those perfect pictures that she sees on sites like Instagram are often the result of about 10 attempts. Also, people often share only the good parts of their life and keep the bad bits to themselves so don’t ever feel like your life isn’t good enough in any way.
10) We also talked about Mobile Malware which is an important issue that she’s also learning about at school and actually, she taught me a few things about this which she thought was hilarious. I’ve included some information about Mobile Malware below as it really is important for you and for your teenager!
These are the things that we discussed and I think we’ve covered most of it but above all else, she knows that she can come to me with any concerns and if she sees something she isn’t comfortable with then she can bring it to me and I’ll help.
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Image credit: Shutterstock, JPC-PROD