Video and photo sharing online are a very popular way for teenagers in particular to communicate with their friends. Usually sharing begins with photos and then moves on to videos. From our work in primary and secondary schools throughout the country we know that parents concerns grow as their children become more familiar with sharing information online. Older children and teenagers tell us that sharing of photos and uploading and sharing videos via apps and on social media is now a really common way of communicating with friends.  So, what do you need to know to help to keep your child safe if they are sharing videos and/or photos online?

We have put together the following tips for talking with your child about video and photos:

Encourage your child to use safety settings: This includes things like switching off location identification and knowing how to block and/or report other users who are upsetting them or sharing inappropriate content. Remind your child too that no matter what safety settings are in place they are never 100% effective and that they must exercise caution when sharing images using photos or videos. Remind them to only share content with their friends and never with people they don’t know and have never met.

Make sure your child is aware of what they share: Sharing content online is not like sharing it in any other context. When something is shared online it cannot usually be easily deleted or removed. Even when shared via apps that claim that content can disappear quickly, it can be screenshot and re-shared. Remind your child that they should never share personal information, particularly things like their home address and/or their email address. Also, if they see content that they know is inappropriate encourage them to tell an adult that they know and trust about what they have seen. As we saw with all the controversy surrounding the SimSimi app recently it can be very easy for something like cyberbullying to develop, when the sharing of content is concerned. It is a good idea to start to build this awareness of what is shared at the earliest possible age.

Open Communication builds confidence online: One of the most effective ways of starting and keeping a conversation about appropriate sharing of content, is to be open in communicating with your child when it comes to staying safe online. Try to incorporate regular conversations with the entire family about internet safety. Alongside this remind your child that it is ok for them to come to you to discuss any concerns they may have about what they are experiencing online. If a child is frightened that they may be punished by being honest about what they have seen or experienced then they are much less likely to be honest with you about their experiences.

Balance is best: While sharing photos and videos is a very popular way of communicating in particular for teenagers, remind your child of the importance of engaging face to face with their friends. In a world where digital devices are everywhere and ever present it is very important that we all learn to create a healthy balance between the use of technology, the virtual world and the real world. Try to encourage time spent away from screens by all members of the family.

Sharing life experiences via videos and/or photos is only bound to increase. Having regular conversations which incorporate advice about staying safe online and exercising caution is a great way of empowering your children as they communicate online!