This week, children’s Minister Tim Loughton has warned parents to monitor and regulate their children’s internet use more thoroughly. By allowing children to publish personal information and photographs online, parents are potentially – albeit unintentionally – exposing them to online predators.
“We know, and I know from personal experience, the temptations for younger children to set up a Facebook site and get involved with those social media. And I also know that in too many cases they do that aided and abetted by parents,” he said.
The minister’s comments come as MPs urge mobile phone companies to do more to combat ‘sexting’ between young people. Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit pictures or content to another person’s phone – a common practice between curious teenagers and an increasing source of worry for authorities and parents’ alike.
Many images sent between young people end up circulated in the playground, or worse- on the Internet. Once a photograph is uploaded on the web it can be viewed and downloaded by anyone who finds it.
Parents who create profiles for children under the age of 13 need to be aware of the risks and they need to ensure their children understand that once they press the ‘send’ button, they no longer own or have control over the content of that message. Facebook has a number of security measures in place for young people, including eliminating them from public searches so that their private information can only be viewed by friends. Who children choose to befriend on social networking sites is another matter, and is something parents are responsible for monitoring.
If you or a loved one has been the target of an online predator, whether from bullying or sexual abuse, our network of counsellors is here to provide the necessary support. Visit our page to find out more about abuse, or alternatively search for a counsellor to contact directly.
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