The internet was meant to be a useful resource and it is sometimes being used to spread hate. In my line of work, both as ex-teacher and now psychotherapist, you can read about my concern with how online behaviour is altering relationships offline here, but I help with mental health issues such as lowering of self-esteem, depression and feelings of powerlessness which have developed over time from experiences such as cyber-bullying, and trauma of being sent images and videos of hangings and murder in very explicit detail that have scarred teenagers and adults, sometimes resulting in escapism through video games or inappropriate anti-social behaviour.
I have heard many horror stories and the internet is full of how people’s lives are turned upside down when images of such things as cyber-bullying, pornography, and terrorist activity have been sent on their mobile device or computer. Repeated experiences like this on a young mind could scar them for life depending on what is happening in their life at the time or if they are not resourceful or educated on internet safety guidelines. Do you know anyone in this position?
We have to keep our children safe
I think internet safety starts as soon as a child is able to take responsibility for say using a mobile phone or computer game. Children are growing up with this technology and it is getting really sophisticated. Some children can cope with that level of technological advances but are not always aware of the dangers. Our young children have impressionable minds and are ignorant to the kinds of ‘criminal rings’ that are out there. It is our job to educate our children and keep them safe. We cannot absolve our responsibility as adults – we have to keep them safe.
Playing your part.
The theme for Internet Safety day this year is “play your part for a better internet.” As a school counsellor, I know that our school takes this responsibility very seriously. Mr Dean Miller, deputy head states that “we run annual workshops for children and parents. In the past we had a video conference on cyber-bullying and keeping children safe online.”
What could we do?
We call upon young people, parents, carers, teachers, social workers, law enforcement, companies, policymakers, and wider, to join together in helping to create a better internet. Today, make the pledge not only to highlight positive uses of technology and to explore the role we all play in helping to create a better and safer online community. You could go to this link where there is so much information and downloadable materials for different groups. Please reply to this blog by offering what are your top tips for internet safety? How can you help others to use it safely?
If you know anyone that has been negatively affected and needs mental health support, please ask them to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be more than happy to help.