My 10 year old has just completed a series of SRE classes – Sex & Relationship Education, which has enabled us to have some very frank conversations about everything from sexual attraction to wet dreams. So far they’ve really only covered basic biology and the changes that happen during puberty; there is more to come during his next year at school.
The fact that he is never more than a few metres away from access to the big bad internet, means that we have to be vigilant about online security – not just to protect him from potential preditors and online bullying, but also, in the not too distant future, from the temptations of inappropriate sexual content.
Young love moves at quite a pace in the 21st century. It’s not a great leap from texting the latest crush, to sending a nude selfie. Of course kids have always been curious about sex and relationships, but social media changes the way they flirt and can move too quickly for the consequences to be properly considered.
I want to share this Thinkuknow campaign by CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection agency) about how young love plays out online, and how things can quickly get out of hand – a bit like Romeo and Juliet, but at the speed of light.
This short video shows the story of Romeo and Juliet with a modern twist, showing how the lives of these young lovers might play out online today.
It’s so important as a parent to help children stay safe by talking to them about sex, relationships and the internet, but obviously it can be daunting. The first step for our generation is awareness and finding out what they might encounter online, communicating with our kids so that we know what they’re looking at on their screens and what content they’re sharing with friends. We can take practical steps such as setting up parental controls and privacy settings on apps to keep our kids safe.
But just hiding the content from our kids could result in rebellion. Afterall my 10 year old is much more computer savvy than me, and he’s more likely to know how to create/undo a filter than I am. Having an open, honest, non-judgemental conversation about the potential threat and consequences of online activity is more difficult, but also more likely to have a lasting impact.
Knowing the facts, understanding the risks, learning where to get help and, most importantly, recognising young people’s motivations, can help us feel more confident in starting that all important, ongoing conversation with our children.
If you want to help spread the word about the Thinkuknow campaign and keep more children safe from abuse, there is a CEOP letter you can download, sign and deliver to your school.
Have you had this conversation with your child? Please leave me a comment below.
[Disclosure: nothing to disclose, not sponsored]