Recently, there has been an increase in concerns about different online content – particularly those which are targeted at young children. There is an ongoing discussion that a number of these materials encourage children and young people to engage in dangerous activities. There are many reports speculating on the links between these materials and suicidal behaviours. It appears to be a major concern for parents and guardians across the UK. While we need to raise awareness of the content children could be accessing online, we also need to be wary of inadvertently bringing someone’s attention to these materials. Therefore, it is vital that parents and guardians are aware of the best ways they can help to keep their child safe online.
What to do if you are concerned a child could be participating in these challenges:
- Talk to your child directly about what they are watching or playing, giving them a space, judgement-free, to share their online activity with you.
- Listen to what your child says and hear any concerns they may have.
- Reassure your child if they have come across anything they are uncomfortable with. Also, reassure your child that it is the right thing to have told you.
- Remind your child that it is important to not succumb to peer pressure, online or otherwise – practise ways in which they can say no with confidence.
- Be there when your child is on their devices so that you are aware of what they are accessing.
- Set Up parental controls – ensure that your child cannot access things online that they shouldn’t be accessing.
- Report and Block content that you think is unsuitable or inappropriate for your child. If you suspect that your child is engaging in any challenge using their mobile phone – police advise to block the related phone number.
- Encourage your child to always be open and honest with you – remind them that you are a safe person to talk to about things they may be concerned about.
If you are concerned that your child may be having thoughts of suicide, contact HOPELINE247.