We answer your online safety questions with the help of the experts, CyberSafeIreland.
My son is eleven years old and has recently been given a mobile phone for his birthday. We had hoped to wait until he was a teenager but he is the youngest in his class and was the last of his friends to get a phone. He is using apps like TikTok and Snapchat which I have no experience of. How can I keep an eye on what he is doing with those apps without making him feel like I’m invading his privacy?
Thank you for your query. Let us start by saying that you are not alone. A lot of parents feel the same way and our recent online safety research revealed that 29% of parents have had a negative experience with their child’s tablet or smartphone. It is a huge area of concern for parents.
We hope that this resource will help you reach a better understanding of the apps you have mentioned above. It also provides links to the parental controls and security/privacy settings that are associated with those apps.
It is important to monitor your son's phone and we understand how challenging this can be. Communication is key when it comes to the way devices and social media are used in the home. This article explores the very real challenge of discussing uncomfortable topics with your child.
For this age group, cyberbullying is a legitimate worry. According to CyberSafeIreland, a huge portion of 8-13-year-olds are rarely speaking to their parents about online safety. In a survey of 1500 children of this age group “over 34% are in regular contact with a stranger online, and 50% use social media and messaging apps that are meant to be inaccessible to users aged under 13.”
In an article on the CyberSafeIreland website, we learned that “Cyberbullying can take place at any time and can be difficult to escape given the pervasiveness of technology. Empathy can also be a challenge as eye-contact is often absent from online interaction and it is difficult to gauge the impact of words and actions online.”
Another common issue with these apps is the prevalence of “sexting” which is messaging (often including images) in a sexually explicit manner.
We hope this post will help you with this topic.
The key is to empower yourself and your child with as much knowledge as possible. The online world isn't going anywhere fast, so it's important to avoid scare tactics and focus on knowledge and empowerment. Here are a few suggested articles approved by CyberSafeIreland which may help:
Do you monitor your child's phone?