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Let's Talk: Digital Resilience

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There is growing concern, given the growth of the internet and subsequent online technologies, to ensure that, while children and young people are empowered to engage with the digital world, they can do so in a safe and risk-free way. Over the next month we will be sharing some guidance on digital resilience and online safety. It is essential that you make time to read about the information provided below.

We will start by exploring, thinking about what we actually mean by digital resilience and how we might go about achieving this.

What is digital resilience?

Digital resilience is the ability to understand when you are at risk online, knowing what to do when something goes wrong and learning from the challenges you face.
 Research shows that the average age a child gets a smartphone is aged 10. 51% of 12 year olds have social media accounts. Only one in eight, 12-15 year olds who have seen something worrying or nasty online have reported it.

What challenges can children face?

At the age of 11–13 years, children start socialising online for the first time and building friendship groups which means they could face issues such as online peer pressure and cyberbullying.

They may be exposed to content that is inappropriate for their age, especially if they are using devices that aren’t protected by the correct parental controls.

Children at this developmental stage are more impulsive and so may not be fully conscious that they are creating a digital footprint that will affect them as they grow older.

How do I get them prepared to deal with these challenges?

1. Have conversations about their online world

  • Talk to your children about what they’re doing online, what apps they’re using and how you expect them to behave online
  • Talk to them about what the things they value offline, such as kindness and how that should translate online
  • Explain to them why it’s important for you to keep an eye on their social media so they can understand that just like riding a bike, you need training wheels to learn safely before riding independently.

2. Discuss digital footprint

  • Remind your child that everything they post online will be recorded and this could affect them in later life
  • This applies to photographs, comments and videos
  • Talk to them about the consequences of what they post - something that might seem funny now might not be funny down the line.

3. Encourage your child to talk about the challenges they face online

  • Talk to your child about the importance of speaking out if they come across cyberbullying online
  • Remind your child that they can always come to you or a trusted adult if they’ve been upset by something online.

What happens if things go wrong?

  • Try and understand what has gone on, where it has happened, who is involved and if there are any settings you can apply to stop it happening again
  • Show your support and make a point to give them the confidence that you will deal with it together
  • Talk it through openly and validate their feelings and emotions about what they’ve experienced
  • Depending on the situation seek advice from the School Counsellor to give them the best chance to recover and regain their confidence.

BIS Abu Dhabi Counselling Team