Today marks Safer Internet Day - an annual worldwide event that aims to create a safer internet for all. The global awareness day encourages people to navigate the online world safely by developing four, critical skills: Respect, Responsibility, Reasoning and Resilience.
On Safer Internet Day, millions of people unite to inspire positive change and raise awareness about online safety. headspace recognises that the internet is an important part of a young person’s life whether they are using it for schoolwork, research, social interaction, or for leisure.
It’s important that young people develop online behaviours that help them navigate the internet and social media in an informed, safe and meaningful way.
When used safely, and in balance with off line activities, a young person’s time online can; be educational, help build connections and fun. There can be some obstacles to safe online use such as cyberbullying, exposure to inappropriate, harmful or distressing content, inability to control contact from strangers/others and the capacity to balance on and offline activities.
Parents are well-placed to support a young person to participate online in a safe and healthy way. Modelling safe and balanced on and offline activities in your own life, can be a useful and supportive way to encourage young people to do the same.
We encourage parents to actively engage in conversations and seek information seeking with their young people about their online use. Have regular, open conversations about what they are doing, what their experiences have been, and balancing their time online. Keeping conversations open can help parents identify when young people are experiencing difficulties online.
As a parent it can be useful to keep an eye out for young people who; seem more tired than usual, appear less able to concentrate, seem more irritable, have lost or decreased interest in other social activities, decline in academic performance or any other significant behavioural changes that are out of character for that young person. These changes might be an indication of mental health difficulties and an indication to explore whether their online use is safe and balance.