How to keep your child safe on social media [Interview]

Before becoming a child online safety expert, Jessica Chalmers was a freelance social media manager, and it was during that time she stated feeling uneasy about social media and worrying how to keep her children safe on social media.

While social media was a great way for her clients to reach new people in a marketing context, she had this niggly feeling in her head that this is less good for children and young people.

After watching the Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, and learning more about the power and influence that the online world has over us, she realized very quickly that she was not equipped to keep her children safe online.

That doubt led her on a journey of discovery. She has trained with some of the world’s leading child safety experts and wants to share everything she knows. From monitoring screen time to talking about tricky topics such as porn, Jess help people to navigate the choppy cyber waters and become a truly confident digital parent.

The importance of keeping children safe on social media

Regardless of whether you have children of your own, knowing how to keep children safe on social media is so important.

While Jess often talks about the risks, she is pro-technology and acknowledges there are loads of benefits to our children growing up with this amazing tech at their fingertips. But of course, with anything going online, there are risks and the kind of general risks that you get online, which of course, are also translated to social media.

There's a risk of cyberbullying, children seeing inappropriate content, whether that's porn or hateful content, and dreadful things like self-harm and suicide content. Then there's the risk of online grooming, which unfortunately has risen a lot since the pandemic. The FBI recently recorded that there are over 500,000 predators online. And these are problems that we must all be aware of.

There are so many more things you need to be aware of these days, and while risks still exist for children who are out and about on the streets, don't talk to strangers, don't get in people's cars etc. digital risks that can take place when they're in your home in their safe place.

When your kids are set on their devices, even next to you, they can be having conversations with people they naively shouldn't be having conversations with. Jess told us she remembered when she had her son, that one of the things that really struck her was realising that these days a bully can follow them home, go in the front door, up the stairs into their bedroom and continue to bully them even in the safety of their home.

Jess pointed out that most social media platforms require you to be 13+ to create an account. But lots of children join social platforms as young as eight when they should be 13.

But most parents don't realise that if a child joins social media at age 8 and tells the platform, they are 13, then once they actually are 13, the algorithm thinks that they're 18 and shows them content suitable for adults, with no restrictions.

In episode 34 of JFDI of the two Lauras, Jess shares some simple tactics to help you to keep children safe on social media networks, including one thing you should teach your child as early as possible to ensure they know how to protect themselves too.

Listen to the full episode here.

Get in touch with Jess via Instagram or on her website.

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