Social media safety: what you can do to stay safe
Sometimes, it can seem hard to know if things are real or not on the internet. Very recently, a concerned parent shared something on Facebook which has gone viral. But what is the truth behind the story? Here, we tell you how social media can get out of hand and offer some tips on how to keep safe online.
The Education People who support early years and childcare settings, schools and colleges, to improve learning, wellbeing and children’s development in Kent and beyond, had this to say:
“The story currently being circulated is not new. It is believed to either be created as a scam to extract personal information or as an urban legend type hoax, and is based on a meme of a sculpture. Whilst many of the social media posts and news stories discuss the ‘game’ encouraging self-harm or other harmful behaviour, it’s important to recognise that there have currently been no confirmed cases of this. It is however possible that content is now being created and shared on popular social media apps to generate fear and add to the panic.”
Carmel Glassbrook, the project manager for the Professionals Online Safety Helpline told us:
“Last week a parent took to Facebook to talk about their child’s frightening experience with a creepy character on the internet. This post went on to be shared thousands of times around the globe, fuelling a moral panic amongst parents and professionals about a secret online challenge. Sharing these posts to spread awareness and encourage people to be on their guard may seem like the obvious thing to do; however, despite the best intentions of internet users, publicising the issue has piqued curiosity and created interest amongst young people where there previously wasn’t any. Young people may then go on to seek out information and, as a result, find content that may upset or frighten them.
The main question we are being asked on the helpline is “I have heard of it, what do I do?”
We have yet to see a case of a child actually encountering the character online or interacting with anyone involved. Instead we have had reports of concern from children having seen the associated image (which has been shared by numerous media outlets).
Credible reports about this issue are very rare, making it difficult for people to know precisely what is going on. And with the publicity have come the copycats to further exacerbate the matter. While there have been some reports of a game being played, it transpires to be a chain-letter type situation on social media and messaging apps. We encourage open and honest conversations with young people about the kind of content they could encounter online, and to ensure children know what to do and who to turn to if they do come across something that makes them feel worried or upset. Moreover, it is also important that as professionals with a duty to safeguard the young people in our care that we are only sharing factual and useful information.”
We don’t want to enable more young people to seek out frightening things or have upsetting experiences online. Below, please find some links to help everyone stay safe on the net.
Advice to keep safe on the internet
click here to get advice if you are a young person (for children and young people from 4 years upwards)
click here if you are a teacher or professional
click here if you are a foster parent or carer
If you are reading this and have been frightened or upset by anything that you have seen on social media, please speak to your foster carer, social worker or PA and tell them what happened.
Top tips for 11-19s
(from the UK Safer Internet Centre)
Protect your online reputation: use the services provided to manage your digital footprints and ‘think before you post.’ Content posted online can last forever and could be shared publicly by anyone.
Know where to find help: understand how to report to service providers and use blocking and deleting tools.
If something happens that upsets you online, it’s never too late to tell someone.
Don’t give in to pressure: if you lose your inhibitions you’ve lost control; once you’ve pressed send you can’t take it back.
Respect the law: use reliable services and know how to legally access the music, film and TV you want.
Acknowledge your sources: use trustworthy content and remember to give credit when using others’ work/ideas.
Keep informed and keep safe!
If you have any ideas, views or opinions to share about internet safety please email us: email@example.com or call or text 07817 010997 to speak to Caroline Lee