I overheard a great conversation yesterday. Two girls were chatting behind me in the queue in the Post Office. From their discussion about school options and examinations, I’d say they were around 14 and 15 years old. Here’s part of the conversation, it really made me smile.
Girl #2: Oh gosh, you’re on Facebook too? So am I. My parents don’t know either; my mum doesn’t like the idea of me being on it.
Girl #1: I have to wait till my mum’s gone out shopping to use the computer. She hasn’t realised that I know the password.
Girl #2: It’s passworded?
Girl #1: Yeah, my dad put a password on it. It took me a while to work out what it was, but it wasn’t that hard: his name and date of birth.
Now, I’m probably wrong for thinking like this, but I find it very uplifting to be reminded that youngsters of today are just as rebellious as kids have always been. Also, it made me chuckle to think of these parents, blithely going about their business, secure in the (false) knowledge that they are several steps ahead of their kids.
So what can schools do about it?
It seems to me that as well as trying to keep youngsters informed about e-safety issues, schools could try to keep parents informed as well (and many do, of course). E-safety information should include such things as:
- Instead of passwording your computer, unless your children are very young, why not discuss safe usage, and trust your child?
- If you must set up a password system, don’t use one that is as obvious as your name + date of birth: if your daughter can guess it, sooner or later a total stranger will too.
- Instead of banning Facebook in your home, join it, and make sure you and your children are “friends” – although, of course, any teenage rebel worthy of the name will set up an alternative account. But at least it will you a chance, hopefully, of seeing how beneficial it can be.
- Encourage parents to look at Child Exploitation and Online Protection website, parents’ area. Instead of merely proclaiming doom and gloom, the site gives you practical ideas. All parents (and teachers?) should take the Parent Test to check how much they know and understand about such things, and for those who really don’t “get it”, suggest they watch the following video.
- Another useful site for parents is O2's Keeping Kids Safe. Many thanks to Alice Johnson for bringing this to our attention.
The photograph is called Gossip Girls 1, and is (c) Sanja Gjenero.