The selfie, it’s certainly a new concept and was named word of the year by the Oxford Dictionary in 2015. Taking a photo of yourself and then sharing it via a social media network or via your smartphone with friends, is certainly something that parents can be unfamiliar with, but their children certainly aren’t. There was a time when the only way that family members or others got to see an images was when the photographs were collected from the pharmacy after they had been developed, but not anymore!
The phenomenon that is the selfie was started by celebrities, sharing images of themselves with other celebs at events like the Oscars, but now it’s not just well known personalities taking and sharing images, children and teenagers regularly take selfies. So how can you ensure that your child stays safe if or when they take a selfie?
Safety settings genuinely are key here. Make sure that you and your child have safety settings correctly set for devices, in particular smartphones. They will be a help in ensuring that an image your child shares will only be seen by people known to them. Also, remind your child of the importance of moderation, in other words having a balance between the time they spend online and offline and also with the amount of information, including selfies that they are posting online. Often the excitement of sharing a selfie can mean that it can quite easily become an everyday occurrence. Children and teens undoubtedly need guidance when it comes to what they share online, even if they feel they don’t! A great way to start a conversation about exercising moderation is to practice it as a parent yourself. If your child see’s you role modelling the time you spend online they may well follow suit.
Reminding your child of the importance of their reputation and the potential impact on their future of what they post online today is also helpful here. A selfie may seem harmless fun in the moment, but it can be nearly impossible to delete what is posted and shared online, and could have a long term impact on your child’s digital footprint. Linked to this is the importance of where a selfie is taken. Remind your child of the absolute importance of making sure that a selfie does not identify where your child is located when it is being taken. Also schools, for the most part do not want their school crests featured in any selfie, again for very valid child protection reasons. Children and even teenagers can sometimes be unaware of who could potentially view a selfie they have taken themselves or are part of. Talking to your child about the importance of taking a few seconds to think about the image they are sharing before they do so, is a great start in helping them to stay safe in a world where the selfie is becoming the new form of photograph.
The Zeeko Internet Safety Guide offers more detailed information on helping to keep your child safe online. You can buy a copy of the book here.