Watching the horrors of war unfold has been very difficult for many adults this week. TV and Radio news are full of information about the awful attacks on the Ukrainians and, perhaps one advantage of social media, is letting us all see what happens when one country invades another. Much of the information on TV has, to a certain extent, been sanitised with the most horrific content removed, this is not the case on social media. We have recently become concerned that some of our children are seeing horrific pictures and videos of the war, and some are struggling to cope with what they have seen. There is not one particular app or website that is worse than the others. Pictures and videos of the war are available on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and probably lots of other social media sites too. In addition they are being reposted so they do not always come directly from The Ukraine. We strongly recommend you take some actions to help your children:
1. Discuss this with your children, have they seen upsetting content? Explain what you would like them to do if they see something scary. (Turn the device face down and get either Mum, Dad or their carer – they are not in trouble).
2. Carefully consider what social media (if any) is suitable for your children. The minimum age for most platforms is 13 because the content providers cannot guarantee that it is suitable for a younger audience.
3. Set up parental controls on devices. Many apps have settings which try and limit the most graphic content – but even with safety features turned on, content is not guaranteed to be “child friendly”. The website “Internet Matters” https://www.internetmatters.org/ is particularly useful in providing advice on most apps and security settings.
4. Talk and listen to your children. We can’t pretend this isn’t happening and they may well have questions and worries which are better discussed than kept secret.
5. If you have serious concerns then please talk to the school as staff there may be able to help, or it might be that other children from the school are equally affected.