The title of the conference was “Facing up to facebook”, yet the reality was it was a lot more than discussing social networking sites.
The impact of the internet to the world has been intense yet for me no more so than in the way it has affected my children.
Gone are the days of face to face conversations we can keep in touch via, email, texting, chat sites, instant messages and of course social networks and probably loads more that I have yet to understand.
The world we interact with has increased a hundred fold. I remember when I was a child the only way I could talk to my friends in another country was either by expensive phone call or by post.
Now my daughter can chat to an old school friend in Australia in seconds.
I believe the world we interact with has increased but reality our world has become smaller due to electronic communication.
So is this advance in communications a good thing? Well regardless of personal opinions the reality is that it’s not going away. Networking sites like facebook, twitter etc are here to stay.
I personally believe that they can be great things, but as a parent and foster carer I am filled with horror at the way our children are leaving themselves exposed.
One of the main concerns I have is that there is a need for honesty in the whole business. We have to trust that whatever someone has written on their profile is the truth. Unfortunately like in all aspects of life there are people who lie and will abuse this. We have already heard the horror stories of girls going to meet 14 year old boys only to find themselves face to face with 45 year old predators.
What I took from the conference was that along with the internet, social networking sites the predators are here to stay.
So what can we do? Some may suggest completely banning the children from being online, but we know kids the more we ban something the more exciting and interesting it becomes. I also believe that we have to realise that our children are going to grow up. We have to accept this and help and support them by teaching those skills that will enable them to keep themselves safe.
One of the other speakers at the conference was a lady from CEOP the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre. While what she spoke about was frightening, she had a lot of incredible advice.
Check out the CEOP website for more information it really is worth a visit.
It is no surprise to you all how much I love social networking, what surprised me was how naive I was.
Two statics stayed with me from this day.
15% of girls think its ok to send or post nude pictures of themselves.
45% of girls think it is ok to post topless pictures of themselves.
I was nearly in tears hearing these numbers. Society has really changed and as parents we have more responsibilities than ever.
While I do believe the internet is a fantastic tool for my children to use, I will be beefing up my security settings, but mostly I will be educating my girls the best way I can., by being open, honest and understanding.
Being naive is not acceptable in this advancing world!