Tomorrow is Internet Safety Day, did you know that? Does turning your mobile devices off before you go to bed fill you with dread, or fill you with relief? If it fills you with dread, you really need to take part in the Digital Sunset Challenge!
My friends, Anna Firth and Linden Kemkaran gave birth to this innovative idea that if they could encourage children to turn off their mobile devices before bedtime, it would keep them safe from internet bullies. After running a few focus groups with local mothers and after conducting in depth research, liaising with both West Kent Mind and local schools, they came across some scary findings. Not only were children, unknowingly inviting strangers into their bedrooms at night, (I say unknowingly, because our children feel they know the people they are playing games with - even though they have not met them). However, constantly being on a device at night disturbs our children's sleep pattern - leaving them tired throughout the day. Also, West Kent Mind found that many children were suffering from stress and anxiety due to the constant use of their mobile devices.
My Experience - Being a mother of 3 beautiful girls, I obviously want to protect them. However, last year my then 17 year old daughter was stalked on social media by a boy she had only met once! She had no relations with him, simply met him for a coffee at Victoria Station - her friends were in the background, to keep a watchful eye on her.
Ever since that meeting, he pursued her by text, WhatsApp and Snap Chat. She came to me a few weeks down the line. I told her to tell him that she had told her family and friends about his messages (thinking that he would stop knowing others were seeing his messages), but no, it got worse. I suggested she block him from all social media - he then contacted her via his friends!
We reported his harassment to the Kent Police, who were quick to act and dealt with the situation extremely efficiently.
Where would it have stopped? He was threatening to turn up at her school - what next, her home? When she's at a party? Don't take the risk. Parents teach yourself how to put on the parental mode on your primary school age children's devices - keep an eye on your teenagers movements and behaviour.
BE INTERNET SAFE AND SAVVY
Visit the Digital Sunset Challenge!
Read other stories below.
The Breck Foundation - As a young teenager and for years, Breck was groomed by an 18 year old boy, who eventually killed him. Now his mother Lorin LaFave, who I greatly respect, gives talks on how to keep your children safe.
Join in on No Tech 4 Breck on Internet Safety Day