Public opinion has recently been shocked by news about pedophile acts committed by Polish YouTubers, very popular among young Internet users. An investigation into this matter is ongoing, but criminal activities against young people, which begin with establishing contacts via the Internet, are a problem that has already been seen in many countries around the world. Therefore, it is worth recalling how to protect the youngest Internet users against the threats present there.
Everyone around us knows that the Internet provides a lot of opportunities, unfortunately, even for those who do not have good intentions. Experts have been pointing out the insufficient level of education among young people in this context for years. – The knowledge they currently have is selective. We know from research that they get it mainly from the Internet and from their peers, says Barbara Baran, a sexologist and psychologist.
Experts indicate that schools could largely take over the role in education. – We definitely need sex education classes at the systemic level. Unfortunately, parents have to cope on their own or look for such specialists on their own, because they can rarely count on the help of the school system, Baran points out.
It’s not only about sex education, which the system still does not offer, because more and more often we are also talking about media education – during such classes, children could learn to skillfully, i.e. consciously and critically, use something that has become an inseparable element of our lives. – Formally, there is no media education in Poland, or only in few schools. I know that some people introduce it as an innovation, but it is definitely time to introduce it globally. At the moment, our situation is as it is, we are not entering into any reform, so I won’t dream. The only thing that can be done in the circumstances we are in is an educational lesson, which seems to me to be the best place for it, because it covers all children – says history teacher Agnieszka Jankowiak-Maik, known online as “Babka od histy”.
Parents themselves can do a lot, they say. – We also have to listen to our children, because if when we go to visit grandma, aunt or uncle, our child says that he doesn’t feel like saying hello, and we say: “no, you have to say hello, you have to give aunt a kiss, because “that’s what good parenting is all about,” so what signal do we give him? We are giving him a signal that his boundaries do not matter at this moment – says Marta Ludwiczek, journalist and educator in the field of family safety.
What do experts advise parents?
Setting an example is key – explains Beata Bronek, a digital mother of four children. As she emphasizes, parents should simply manage. – If a new application appears, a child brings a topic that wants a new game, just take a critical look at it – explains Bronek.
There are also many digital security measures that can be easily implemented. Many websites and search engines filter content so that it is appropriate to the user’s age. – For example, on VOD services, a separate children’s profile is created and there, by entering this age, the content is automatically controlled. Many services already offer such an offer that allows you to indicate who is the parent and family administrator and who is the child, specifying their age – explains Broniek.
Of course, all this will be in vain if there is no conversation at an early stage. Conversations about why such security measures exist at all. – What I could advise parents is to talk about what is happening on the Internet and how to build relationships safely. The fact that how a child feels in a relationship is very important, and we start these conversations about the Internet as early as possible, when the child starts using the Internet, and definitely the last call is when the child uses the Internet on his own – explains Barbara Baran.
If you are experiencing emotional problems and would like advice or support, here you will find a list of organizations offering professional help. In a situation of immediate threat to life, call 997 or 112.
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