Blog | How to safeguard your Scouts - in their words!
Today is Safer Internet Day, and we want to make sure that you and your Scouts are able to get the most out of the world wide web. We spoke to some of your Scouts to find out what help they do and don’t want.
How can adults help you stay safe online?
The Scouts we spoke to were very clear that one of the best things you can do is ask them what they’re up to. ‘The best way to keep us safe online is by letting us know that we can talk to you about anything that worries, confuses or upsets us online. If you let us know that you won’t be angry with us if we have concerns, we will be more receptive to discussing things with you,’ says Isobel.
At the same time, says Amy, it’s important to let young people have some privacy online as long as you trust that they can be careful – in other words, tailor the conversations you have to each individual Scout. ‘I think the level of ‘support’ needed is a personal thing as some younger people can be trusted to use the Internet appropriately whereas others can’t. It’s difficult to say what to do exactly, but for most it’s as simple as asking about it.’
Why is online safety important, and how do you stay safe at the moment?
The idea that whatever you post online now stays around is something which a lot of Scouts think it’s important to be aware of at all times. Ella said she posts with the knowledge that anything she regrets saying could come back to haunt her in the future! ‘I don’t think enough teenagers are aware that employers may look at your online presence, and one simple, ill thought-out comment could mean the difference between having your dream job or not,’ she says.
Most Scouts were pretty clued up on how to stay safe careful online in general. ‘I only share my profiles with people I know, and I have my privacy setting up so only my friends can see my posts,’ explains Rebecca.
What do you think are the real risks of using the internet?
Isobel points out that most teenagers are conscious of the risks of people not being who they say they are, but not of the risks of getting drawn into something with people you know. ‘Often the real issue comes from people you know,’ she explains. “For example, getting into cyber arguments can be a real problem; both parties are a lot braver behind a screen and often say things they may later regret.”
What about the adults around you? How can they stay safe online?
The general consensus here is that knowledge is power! Dafydd suggests that leaders need to have as much knowledge about using the internet as possible, whilst Ella recommends that leaders practice what they preach. ‘It might be easy to think that because a lot of internet safety advice is directed at young people it doesn’t affect adults, but if your security measures aren’t good enough, you leave yourself open to being hacked.’