How can your child deal with in-game bullying?
Dealing with in-game abuse can be extremely upsetting, distressing and draining.
Liam Hackett, founder and CEO of the anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label, gives advice on what your child should do if they are being subjected to in-game bullying
In-game abuse is a common form of cyberbullying, with gamers being harassed and intimidated by other players, known as ‘griefers’. This abuse can happen while playing on online gaming websites and social media, or while interacting through gaming consoles like Playstation and Xbox.
At Ditch the Label, we define cyberbullying as ‘the use of digital technologies with an intent to offend, humiliate, threaten, harass or abuse somebody.’
It is often hard to know what to do to address and alleviate such a situation. With this in mind, here is a short list of dos and don’ts that you can discuss with your child should they be at the receiving end of in-game abuse’.
1. Don't respond with aggression
Often reacting in an aggressive manner can make the situation worse and put your child at risk of further abuse.
If it’s the first time that a particular gamer has said anything that has upset or offended your child, and they feel it is a safe and appropriate action to take, they could try calmly communicating with the person who is doing the cyberbullying.
Your child should remember to challenge the behaviour, not the person – so instead of accusing the person of being a ‘bully’, they should explain why their actions or words are causing distress.
For example, instead of saying, ‘You’re upsetting me’, they could say, ‘What you said/did has upset me’. If the bullying persists after taking this action, see point 2.
2. Block/report the person that is cyberbullying you
Your child can block and report the users who are bullying them at any time - remember that these options are in place to support and protect gamers from abuse.
The type of gaming environment your child is in will determine which course of action is best to take. They should speak with other gamers that they also know offline and check their headset to see if they can activate options to mute/disable audio chat and turn off the screen text.
They could also contact the game administrators or moderators and report the user.
3. Never give away personal information
We recommend that your child keeps their privacy settings high and doesn’t connect with anybody they do not know offline. People may not always be who they say they are and your child could be putting themselves and those that they care about at risk.
Advise your child to never give away personal details like their full name, telephone number, school, home address etc.
If somebody is exhibiting threatening behaviour, or has your child’s personal information and is giving them the impression that their safety might be at risk, they should contact the police or a trusted adult immediately.
4. Don't take it personally
Your child should remember that the person who is abusing them in-game is the one with the issue, not them. More importantly, it is very likely they don't even know them!
What your child is experiencing is in no way their fault; people experience bullying not because of their sexuality, gender identity, race, appearance, disability or any other unique factor; it is because of the attitude towards that factor. The only thing possible to change is attitudes – your child doesn’t need to change the way they are.
5. Don't seek revenge
Gandhi once said ‘An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.’ Remind your child to think about the repercussions of their actions - what can really be gained by seeking revenge? They might even get themselves in trouble with the game's moderators.
It is far better that they save themselves from the possibility of further trauma and focus on the good things in their life. They should try to look at how they can move forward in a positive way, putting the person who is cyberbullying them firmly in the past.
6. Don't isolate yourself from friends and family
A common, sometimes unconscious reaction to being bullied is to shut down and withdraw from your loved ones. We begin to distance ourselves both emotionally and physically from the very people we need support from.
Depriving yourself of any sort of support or friendship certainly won’t do anything to resolve the issue.
‘Advise your child to try to keep up with their normal social life and activities they enjoy’
We know it might feel like the best thing to do, but it will only make things worse in the long run by silencing your child and reducing their self-esteem.
Advise your child to try to keep up with their normal social life and activities they enjoy – the distraction will help lift their spirits and remind them of the positive things in their life.
7. Tell somebody you trust
Even if your child doesn’t want to report it, it is important that they tell somebody they trust what they’re going through. Dealing with it alone is extremely stressful, and can be emotionally draining and taxing.
This stress can have impact on all areas of their life, including their mental wellbeing, ability to communicate with others, performance in school, self-esteem etc.
It is therefore incredibly important that they tell somebody. It doesn’t even have to be an adult – it could be a friend or somebody at Ditch the Label.
It is vital, during this time, that your child has a support system and people who they can rely on when they are feeling low, or unable to cope.
8. Keep a record
Keeping a record of all interactions with griefers is very important.
Your child should be vigilant from the beginning and take a screen shot of anything offensive. This can be used as evidence when talking with game administrators.
Your child has a responsibility to themselves and other gamers - you never know who you might inadvertently be protecting from future abuse by being proactive right now.
9. Take some time out
When players are immersed in a game it can feel all-consuming – in a good way! However, when an unexpected griefer is thrown into the mix, it can quickly become a very negative and overwhelming experience.
Advise your child to take some time out, step away from the game and remove the cause of stress. Give themselves a chance to see things a little clearer – that way they can decide what the best plan of action is.
It is important during this time to take good care of your child’s health and mental wellbeing.
Little things like eating a balanced diet, exercising, getting a good night’s sleep, relaxing and having quality time with friends and family can really improve physical and mental health, which will in turn, reduce stress.
Reductions in stress can increase your clarity of vision, allowing for better analysis of difficult situations, which will make them much easier to deal with.
Snapchat: what parents need to know
Answers to parents’ frequently asked questions about the social media app
What is Snapchat?
Snapchat is a photo-sharing app with a twist: the images you send disappear seconds after they're viewed. You get to decide how long a photo will 'live,' from one to 10 seconds after it's been seen. It feels like a way to socialise without leaving a digital footprint. But there are ways to capture and recover images so it's unwise to have too much of a sense of security about that. In fact, users can now choose how long their snaps stay up on the app. There are also features for creating and sharing stories and making video and audio calls.
Snapchat runs on iPhone and Android phones but it also runs on iPad and Android tablets, which are often used by very young children.
Why do young people like it?
Snapchat was developed as an antidote to other social networking services, where images can stay around forever and people have to worry about self-presentation and reputation. Snapchat users feel they don’t have to worry if they’re having a bad hair day or just want to make a silly face. It's been (rightly) drummed into young people that photos shared on the web are forever and really hard to take back. Snapchat's a relief: it's playful and in the moment. Users don't have to worry about some invisible future audience.
Does Snapchat have a minimum age?
Yes, it's 13, in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. But Snapchat doesn’t ask users to specify their ages so there are probably many younger children using the app. The service will delete underage accounts if they’re notified and can verify that the user is under 13.
Are there risks in using Snapchat?
There's nothing inherently dangerous about Snapchat, but it's often referred to as ‘the sexting app’, even though there's no research showing that to be true and plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting that isn't the reason most teens use it. But like any photo-sharing service, Snapchat can be used for sexting, harassment, or worse. It can be particularly sad and hurtful if that happens, because Snapchat is typically used among friends (or at least people who have each other's user name or phone numbers).
There are some privacy concerns after a recent update. As of June 2017, Snapchat launched a location-sharing feature called Snap Map. Young people can share their whereabouts with all their friends or just a select few. They can even set it to ‘ghost mode’ where they can see where others are without sharing their own location. This can be unsettling as you’re not always aware of who is tracking your whereabouts.
Is it good that Snapchat photos disappear in seconds?
Yes, because photos aren't put on display, young people don't have to develop a following. They aren't on display, they don't have to feel performance anxiety. The ephemeral aspect actually adds a measure of safety, as long as people don't develop a false sense of security. Photos can also be saved as screenshots or photographed with another phone and shared with or without the originator's knowledge, which can be good or bad – bad because a screen-captured photo can be used to embarrass the people in it; good because if things do go wrong, there is evidence against someone trying to hurt others.
What's the best way to help kids stay safe in Snapchat?
As with all social media, respecting ourselves and others – in and out of technology and media – makes us safer. Whether the experience is positive or negative depends entirely on how people use the app or service. Are they really friends? How do they treat each other, offline and online? Friends may kid around with each other but for the most part treat each other well. Use this guide for talking points, but the most important thing is that they know you'll support them when difficult things happen – that they can always come to you no matter what.
With the new Snap Map feature, there is the choice to not disclose location and location sharing is switched off by default. If you don’t want anyone to view your whereabouts you can go into settings and put yourself in ‘ghost mode’.
Can’t get the kids away from their mobile phones? Here are three apps to get kids outdoors and enjoy what nature has to offer.
1. Star Walk 2
(iOS and Android, £2.99)
Help to unleash you child’s inner Galileo with Star Walk 2, an app that transforms your device into a digital telescope.
It enables users to stargaze by pointing their device onto the night sky and provides a wealth of astronomical data which will fascinate any child who has an interest in the solar system.
For younger children, Star Walk Kids (iOS and Android, £2.99.) is aimed at the under 8s, and features educational videos and a colourful design.
(iOS and Android, £4.99)
Life is tweet with this birdsong recognition app. Users are able to identify which bird’s melody they can hear by recording it through their smartphone, whilst being provided with images and a description. In addition, users of Warblr will be contributing to a project which aims to help protect some species of birds from extinction – a fantastic way to encourage a child’s curiosity!
(iOS and Android, free)
Predict the weather with this cloud identification app. With stunning pictures and detailed descriptions, Coton will help educate children about the water cycle while they have fun. It’s a useful companion for family days out, wherever you are.
Having a digital footprint
Top tips on how to help your child create a positive digital footprint and make their online presence work for them
Young people are constantly reminded that the things they do and say online won’t go away. Often we focus on the downsides of having a public and permanent digital footprint, sometimes referred to as a digital tattoo because it's so hard to remove. But your child’s online presence can be just as beneficial as it could be damaging.
You and your children have probably heard that compromising photos or inappropriate comments on social media could hurt their chances of finding a job or getting into university.
But while lots of employers and universities admit to looking up applicants online, it’s better to have a positive digital presence than none at all. A thoughtful and carefully curated digital footprint that highlights your child’s skills and interests could help them stand out in a good way.
Here’s how to help your child make their digital footprint work for them.
1. Think before sharing
It’s not new advice, but thinking carefully before sending or posting is one of the most important parts of looking after your digital footprint. Instead of just holding back from posting inappropriate comments, your child should think about how everything they share fits into their online persona – does it represent how they want others to see them?
2. Use the right settings
It’s best to only post things you’re happy to make public, but that doesn’t mean there should be no separation between what you share with the world and with your friends. It’s natural – and important – for your child to share some things publicly and restrict others to a smaller group of friends and family. Have a look at this information about using safety and privacy settings on some popular social media platforms as a starting point.
‘A good digital footprint should reflect the things that are important to them’
3. Get involved
Especially as young people get a bit older, a good digital footprint should reflect the things that are important to them. If your child is interested in writing, for example, they could start a blog to build up an online portfolio. They don’t have to accept comments or posts from people reading it if they don’t want to. And you don’t have to share your own work to make your interests part of your digital footprint – the things you like and the people you follow matter too.
4. Stay on top of things
If your child is working to have a positive digital footprint they should check regularly to make sure it stays good. They can Google their name, or use tools on some social media platforms to see their activity or their profile from someone else’s perspective.
5. Be safety-conscious
It’s hard to have a positive online presence if you’re not in control of what ‘you’ share. Your child should use good passwords and keep them private to keep anyone else from getting access to their accounts.
6. Delete old accounts
Social media platforms go out of fashion quickly, and yesterday’s craze might be out of favour with your child today. Nothing posted online ever disappears completely, but it’s best to delete old profiles instead of leaving them unattended.
7. Stay careful
Your child shouldn’t overshare online in the interest of having a good digital footprint. They still need to think about using privacy settings and avoid giving out too much identifying information.
For some young people, like those in care, it might be more important to focus on privacy than building an online presence – and that’s completely fine. A positive digital footprint is a bonus, not a requirement.
It’s also worth reminding your child that their digital footprint isn’t just what they share, it’s what others say about them too. As a parent or carer, you might want to keep this in mind for your own posts as well. Read more on this here.
Three top tips for building your child’s online resilience
You can't shield your child from every risk in the online world, any more than you can offline. So how do you help them to be digitally literate – and what does that even mean? Here, Geraldine Bedell examines what parents can do to help them stay safe.
A lot of what we’ve been told about keeping children safe online may be wrong. Rather than trying to limit young people's exposure to harmful content via filters and restrictions, an increasing amount of research has found that we should be focusing on helping them build their online skills, confidence and creativity. This will make it easier for them to manage their use (including to switch off!) and to deal with risks if they arise.
You can't shield your child from all risks online, any more than you can offline. But not all those risks have to turn into harm.
To help prevent that harm, young people need to be streetwise online. This is sometimes called digital literacy, and it has three elements:
- Technical literacy: Knowing your way around technologies and having technical skills.
- Media literacy: Understanding different platforms; and being able to judge the quality and reliability of online sources.
- Social literacy: Understanding online etiquette and the way things are done online.
As a parent, you may not be a coding whizz or up to speed with all the latest apps, but you can help your child understand the social side of things, the implications of their online behaviour (that what goes online stays online, for example, or that it's generally bad practice to say something to someone online that you wouldn't say to their face).
Here are our tips for helping your child to regulate their own use and take the more positive approach to the internet that seems to lead to greater safety:
Rather than making inflexible rules, have a conversation
It can be tempting to lay down hard and fast rules – to order your kids not to visit certain websites or to switch all screens off by dinner time. But even a child who has no access to a computer at home may be able to surf the web on their phone, a friend’s tablet or laptop or even at school, and research shows that children who have very restrictive parents are generally less resilient than their peers. If you’d rather your child didn't use certain websites, the best approach is to explain why. Calmly and rationally discussing the risks of some online activities can help your children decide for themselves that uploading that picture or clicking on that link isn’t worth the risk.
Create a supportive environment for exploration and learning
We know parental support can make a big difference in offline success, but it’s just as crucial to online resilience. Make it clear you support your child seeking out new opportunities. Encourage them to research topics that interest them, use the internet for homework and connect positively with friends and family via social media.
Don’t be too hands-off
Giving your children freedom to explore online without excessive restrictions and monitoring is a good thing, but there’s no need to jump to the other extreme.
‘It is children who feel unconditionally supported (but who have clear boundaries) who feel most secure and tend to be safer’
Research shows that parental interest and involvement is positively correlated with online resilience, so don’t stay completely removed from your child’s online life. Ask them to show you their favourite websites, videos and apps, and talk to them about how they interact online. Take a real interest in what they're doing. It is children who feel unconditionally supported (but who have clear boundaries) who feel most secure and tend to be safer.
In other words, a lot of the best strategies for online parenting are very similar to those offline. Most parents are already trying to balance freedoms and rules, to support their children and get involved in their lives. Adding new technology into all that can seem scary, but don't worry too much about the tech; focusing on your child, being interested and supporting them works online too.
Digital resilience: a parent's guide
What exactly is digital resilience? And what can we do as parents to help our children develop it? By Parent Zone
Parent Info’s partner organisation, Parent Zone, began the conversation about the importance of promoting digital resilience in children and young people with its 2014 report with the Oxford Internet Institute, A Shared Responsibility.
What’s so important about digital resilience?
At Parent Zone, we’re often asked what we mean by ‘digital resilience’ and whether it’s different to offline resilience. The answer is that it’s similar to resilience in any other context, with some crucial differences.
Digital resilience involves having the ability to understand when you are at risk online, knowing what to do if anything goes wrong, learning from your experiences of being online, and being able to recover from any difficulties or upsets.
Children who are digitally resilient will be equipped to handle the challenges of the modern, digital world.
You need to be able to explore life online
Digital resilience grows through online use and learned experience and can’t be developed through the avoidance of the digital world. In other words, you don’t help your children to become digitally resilient by keeping them away from the internet.
‘It’s vital that parents ensure children are allowed to explore the online world’
It’s many parent’s instinct to use as many tools and filters as they can to ‘protect’ their child from nasty things they may find on the internet. This may be useful for very young children, and tools are important for all internet users – we’d all do well to check our privacy settings more often – but when it comes to raising a digitally resilient child, it’s vital that parents ensure children are allowed to explore the online world.
The reality is, if you attempt to make parental controls your first line of defense, your child will do what children are programmed to do – they’ll attempt to find a way around them and could end up in much less safe parts of the net, such as the murkier parts of the dark web. More importantly, you won’t be helping them to develop digital resilience.
Supportive parents are key
Research conducted by Parent Zone with the Oxford Internet Institute found that children who were given freedom to use the internet on their own, backed up by supportive parenting, were less likely to come to harm online and more likely to enjoy constructive online experiences – like learning a new skill – than those whose internet use was strictly filtered and monitored.
6 ways to promote digital resilience at home
Employ the same parenting skills you use offline to keep them safe, such as negotiating boundaries, talking about the difficult subjects we’d all rather avoid, helping your child to recognise what’s good and bad behaviour.
- Set fair and consistent rules in relation to your child’s internet use at home. As they get older, try to agree the rules with them so that they have some control over their digital world.
- Teach your child to think critically about what they read, see or hear online. For young children, that might mean encouraging them to ask ‘what would Mum or Dad say about that?’ As they get older they need to be able to assess for themselves whether they are in a risky online place and whether the information they are receiving is reliable and helpful to them. (The Parent Zone Digital Parenting course explains in full why some online spaces are riskier than others.)
- It’s much harder for people to empathise with each other when their communications are digital. It’s why trolls find it so easy to post horrible messages. Helping your child to understand that and to pause and think about the impact of things that are posted online, will help them cope with some of the difficult behaviour they will come across and avoid getting caught up in it.
- Maintain a positive outlook on your child’s use of the internet. Whatever you think to the stuff they watch or the hours they spend on Musical.ly or the PS4, if you constantly criticise the apps and games they love, they’re not going to want to talk to you about their online life.
- Children who can recover from an online mistake can learn and avoid making the same mistake again. You can help by making it easy for them to talk to you about their mishaps (that means trying to keep calm even if you’re at your wits’ end!), making sure they know where to go for help if they need it, and recognising if they’re not recovering well so you can step in and get help for them.
- Allow your child to explore and take charge of their online life.
Having some control over any given situation is an important part of resilience – and it’s a really important part of digital resilience. It’s essential in helping them understand and develop their own sense of what’s right and wrong online.
Digital resilience is not fixed. It’s not a single ability or a set of lessons that can be learnt. It is something that every child can have and parents can do more than anyone else to foster it. Set clear boundaries for their life online and then step away, letting them explore the online world safe in the knowledge that you will be there to help if anything goes wrong.
Screen time and young children: finding a balance
Common sense tips on how to manage infants' screen time to make sure they develop healthily and happily
For years, child development experts advised parents that children under the age of two should not have significant exposure to screens and electronic devices. This advice was rooted in the knowledge that very young children need the positive effects of real-world experiences, like a hug from a parent or a trip to the park.
But, in today’s increasingly digital and screen-focused world, the prospect of keeping a child from spending any time looking at screens for two years is daunting, probably unrealistic and the thinking on whether it could do harm to your child has changed.
New guidelines suggest that the best way to handle screen use for young kids is a pragmatic approach based on the type of screen use and the needs of the individual child.
1. Set sensible limits
With babies and toddlers, it’s important to structure and regulate screen time. Young children sleep through quite a lot of the day, so if you do allow some screen use it’s crucial to make sure their waking hours aren’t consumed by staring at screens.
2. Keep a balance
Setting limits on screen time is a great first step, but the way your young children spend the rest of their time will also be important. Babies and toddlers learn best through real world experiences, and as parents already know, they require lots of interaction and face-to-face attention. Make sure that young kids still get lots of chances to play, explore and interact in real life, away from screens.
3. Choose appropriate media
It may seem obvious, but if your toddler or young child is allowed to watch TV, the content should be appropriate for their age group. It’s tempting to assume that very young children might not understand violent or inappropriate imagery, but research has found a correlation between exposure to violent and adult content and sleep problems in children aged betwen three and five. Even children’s programming aimed at older kids might be too fast-paced or confusing for toddlers who may not yet understand silly plot lines or fantastical characters. If you allow very young children to watch TV, it should ideally be stuff that they can relate to, educational, and not too fast-paced.
4. Do digital things together
The more very young children interact with parents, carers and other loved ones, the better – and screen time is no exception. Skyping with other family members and watching a children’s TV show together while chatting about the plot are good examples of helping young children use screens in a productive way.
5. Try not to worry too much
Just as with any other aspect of parenting, it’s impossible to get everything absolutely perfect. In today’s digital world, it can be hard to prevent children from spending too much time around screens, or to make sure they’re only exposed to age-appropriate media. There are some important guidelines to keep in mind with young children and screen use, but don’t panic if you slip up occasionally.
Instagram FAQs for parents
Instagram is now bigger than Twitter. What's the big attraction? And is there anything parents and carers need to know?
Why do kids love Instagram?
Instagram is a photo-sharing and video app with a whole lot of emphasis on sharing. Its like photo-enhanced socialising- a way of communicating mainly through images, creating ongoing mixed-media conversations that includes plenty of likes.
Does Instagram have a minimum age?
Yes, it's 13, in compliance with the GDPR. But Instagram doesn’t ask users to specify their age and there are many younger children who use the service, often with their parents’ permission. Whether Instagram is 'safe' depends more on how it’s used than the age of the user, but Instagram will delete underage accounts if they’re notified and can verify that users are under 13.
What are the risks of using Instagram?
There's nothing inherently dangerous about Instagram, but the main things parents worry about are similar to other social media: mean behaviour and inappropriate images that can hurt a child’s reputation or attract the wrong kind of attention.
What's the best way to help kids stay safe in Instagram?
Respecting ourselves and others makes us safer. Our posts and comments become part of our public image. Respecting others in the way that photos are shared, tagged and commented on reduces risk to ourselves and to others. While most kids are smart about this, parents may want to be sure their children aren't posting inappropriate photos or having inappropriate interactions with people they don't know, which leads to the next question...
Should my child's profile be private?
Having a public account on Instagram means anyone can follow you. A private account means strangers can't follow you, so many parents prefer their children to use Instagram with a private account for sharing only with friends and relatives. However, that doesn't guarantee that your child won't be seen on Instagram (or any other photo-sharing service) because people post photos of each other. So even if your child doesn't have an account, that doesn't mean they won't appear in a photo on Instagram. This means it's much better for children to be aware of the implications of posting pictures of other people without their permission and to be clear about what to do if they're unhappy with images that have appeared of themselves.
As with all social media, how positive or negative a young person's experiences are on Instagram depends mainly on the person, their friends and how they use the app, and also on how confident they are with how they look, and are viewed by others.
What are Instagram Stories & Go Live?
Instagram also includes a stories feature, similar to Snapchat. Users can take photos and videos, apply filters and location geo-tags and then post them to their Instagram story. They can also upload older photos from their camera roll to their story and it will stay viewable for 24 hours. Users are told when someone takes a screen shot of their story, but not if anyone takes a screenshot of their video.
As well as replying to a person's Instagram story with a written message, users can now reply with a video or photo of their own. All the camera features, including filters, stickers and video loops, are all accessible when replying. The response will disappear after the recipient has viewed it and there will be a notification if it is screen shot or replayed.
Combined with Instagram Stories, users can also opt to ‘Go Live’ and stream whatever they are doing to their followers.
If the person’s Instagram is public and is popular with hundreds of viewers, then it may show up on the ‘Popular’ page encouraging others to watch the stream too. Viewers can send comments to the person streaming and send heart emojis to show appreciation for the video. Users can set their account to be viewed by friends only.
Once the Instagram live stream is over, it will stay viewable to users as part of their Instagram Story, unless the person chooses to delete it.
Can I see if someone has read a direct message?
If you send a direct message (DM) to one of your friends on Instagram you will be able to see when they have read it. It will show a read receipt (seen). As of January 2018, there is no way to turn this feature off.
What is the ‘last active’ feature?
In your direct message box, you can see the people you previously messaged and when they were last active. It also shows you if they are active (live). It is easy to disable the ‘last active’ feature if you don’t want people to be able to see it.
Just follow these three quick steps:
- Go into your profile and tap on the settings
- Scroll down to ‘Show activity status’
- Turn on or off depending on your preferences
It is worth noting that once you turn this off you won’t be able to see the activity status of other accounts, but, you can turn this feature on or off easily in the settings.
Can I see how much time my child has spent on Instagram?
Yes. As of August 2018 Facebook and Instagram have launched a feature that enables you to see just how much time you or your child spend on their mobile apps. You can do this on Instagram by going to Settings > Your Activity.
The feature gives you an overview of your usage for the last 7 days as well as a daily average, allowing you to identify excessive days. It also gives you the option to set a daily reminder, enabling you to set time limits for yourself ranging from 1 minute to 12 hours. Once you’ve reached your limit you will be sent a notification, although this can be ignored.
This is part of an effort by Facebook and Instagram to tackle social media over usage. While it won’t stop your child indulging excessively on social media, it may help make them more aware of just how much time they are spending on these apps.
A parent's guide to vlogging
How to know your Zoellas from your PewDiePies in the world of vlogging.
If you have a child between the ages of 8 and 18, you’ll probably be aware of vlogging – the art of making video blogs or ‘vlogs’ on YouTube.
For parents who didn’t grow up with YouTube, it can be very strange to discover that there are online world-famous superstars, making a living from the site, and sometimes earning enough to buy £1m mansions. Young people love them.
It can all sound pretty alien if you’ve never had a browse through these videos before. Here’s our lowdown on vlogging and what you need to know as a parent.
What is vlogging all about?
There are hundreds of ‘vloggers’ on YouTube, who cover an enormous range of topics. But here are some of the most popular types of video content:
- Fashion, beauty and shopping, including how-to make-up videos.
- Lifestyle and food. Baking is a popular YouTube topic!
- Health – mental or physical. For example, vlogger Marcus Butler makes videos showing healthy recipes and refers to himself as a member of the #kalesquad.
- Funny dares and general silliness.
Some of the most popular vloggers: The UK YouTube ‘family’
After YouTube was set up in 2005, and people started posting vlogs, it didn’t take long for certain vloggers to gain popularity and a loyal following. The UK has produced a team of incredibly popular vloggers that are worshipped by tweens and teens nationwide.
Zoella and Alfie Deyes, Marcus Butler and Niomi Smart, Tanya Burr and Jim Chapman (all real life couples), plus Sprinkleofglitter (Louise Pentland), Joe Sugg, LucyandLydia and Caspar Lee are some of the vloggers that make up the group.
Part of the attraction may be the fact that all of the most well-known UK vloggers are linked in some way. Many of them are siblings or best friends.
They regularly vlog with each other, and appear on each other’s channels – often by popular demand of their adoring fans. Watching a group of entertaining, ‘cool’, perfectly turned out people in their late teens and early twenties, who are all real-life friends, is interesting (and comforting) viewing for younger teens looking for role models.
There are also lots of vloggers who aren’t a part of this group, but are equally, if not more, popular for young people. Gaming channels by the likes of PewDiePie, KSI and DanDTM’s Minecraft-themed Diamond Minecart are huge.
Anyone can make money from their videos as long as the content passes certain criteria. The vlogger is then paid every time somebody clicks on an ad displayed on one of their videos, or watches an ad for longer than 30 seconds. The more subscribers and views you have and the more popular the content, the more likely you are to have people clicking on or viewing the ads on your channel, so the more money you make. You are automatically a ‘YouTube partner’ if one or more of your videos is monetized.
Some vloggers are paid to promote products.
As the vlogging scene has developed and grown, so have the PR opportunities. Vloggers who are particularly popular are often approached by companies asking them to promote their products on some of their videos.
Less than half of 12-15s who go online (47%) are aware of the potential for vloggers to be paid for endorsing products or brands.
Promotion of products is very common in certain video types, such as those showing a ‘shopping haul’ or the vlogger doing their make-up and beauty routine.
Tip: It’s important to tell your teen that when vloggers are explicitly discussing a branded product, they’re probably being paid to do it. This will make them less susceptible to this sort of subtle advertising. They shouldn’t believe everything their favourite vlogger says, even when they’re being very convincing about how amazing a certain product is.
Many of the biggest YouTubers have been taken on by agencies specifically created for social media and online stars, helping further their success. Many have had books published, and have sold other merchandise under their personal ‘brand’: Zoella released a beauty range and SprinkleofGlitter designed a fashion line.
Is the content appropriate?
Many of the most popular YouTubers know their key audience (namely tweens and teens) and produce bright, sparkly, squeaky-clean content for them.
They’re positive, inspiring, and seem to want to build the confidence of their viewers. Many of them have been involved in children’s and young people’s issues, such as Marcus Butler and Zoella, who are anti-bullying ambassadors. Zoella, who has suffered from anxiety and panic attacks, also talks about her illness – helping to destigmatise the issue. Most of the comments people post are positive and these YouTubers’ channels seem to offer a supportive environment.
Gaming vloggers show themselves playing popular games – some of which will be of an age rating that’s inappropriate for your child – and some can use some pretty colourful language while doing so.
Obsessed fans and voyeurism
Many people who follow vloggers will meet other fans online. It’s important children remember the rules about talking to strangers, and not give away any personal or identifying information to someone they don’t know.
Teens can often be more intense about their passions. Admiring someone and having a role model is positive, but just make sure their hobby doesn’t veer into the realms of obsession.
Tip: Many of the popular YouTubers share lots of details about their life. Zoella once accidentally shared information about her address. Children may need to be reminded that they shouldn’t follow suit by sharing details about their personal life online – regardless of the medium – whether it’s a video, blog post, or anything else.
Choosing the right video games for your children
If you’re a parent, chances are your children will have asked you for a video game. But unless you’re a gamer yourself, how do you know which titles are appropriate for their age group and personality?
We asked Andy Robertson, editor of FamilyGamerTV, to explain the PEGI ratings system for us, and to look at the content of some of the games your children will ask for, to help you make an informed decision…
Video-games bring a lot of benefits with them. Alongside entertainment and enjoyment, they enable players to visit other worlds, create ambitious constructions, discover new sports and hobbies and interact with people all over the planet.
However, distinguishing what different games present in terms of benefits or dangers in the family can be a challenge. Unlike films and books, you can’t quickly skim through to assess what your children will be experiencing.
The PEGI ratings are the mandatory way all UK video-games helpfully disclose this information for consumers. Each publisher completes a questionnaire and submits game footage to the Games Rating Authority about its game then determines the age rating it gets.
The PEGI ratings offer a traffic light system of age ratings. Games suitable for over 3s and over 7s are flagged with a green age icon on the box. Games only suitable for those over 12 or 16 are flagged with an orange age icon, and games only suitable for the over 18s have a red age badge.
On the back of the box are another set of icons that depict why the game got a certain age rating. This may be for ‘Language’, ‘Violence’, ‘Drugs’, ‘Fear’ or other reasons. Further information is then available on the PEGI website and Games Rating Authority website.
Websites like Ask About Games make things easier by presenting this information in Quick Guide videos that describe what benefits and dangers the game has, along with footage of game-play depicting the experience. This is a really useful resource for parents who want to investigate game content.
Understanding the PEGI ratings enables you to make informed choices about the games you purchase. This not only avoids unexpected negative aspects of unsuitable games, but helps connect you with games that your family will get the most from.
For help setting parental controls on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, PS Vita, PSP, Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Wii U, go here and click on 'Controls' at the top of the page. Parental controls can be set up to specify which PEGI ratings can be played on each console.
For a full explanation of the PEGI ratings, click here.
Before sharing photos check ‘tagging’ settings so that when others are posting or sharing photos online, your child’s identity is not revealed. Also, get people’s consent before sharing photos.
Check if any of the apps your child is using has ‘geo-location’ enabled, this allows their location to be shared unintentionally.
Ask your child to show you which social media apps they use and what they like about them. Talk about how they use them and what makes them so engaging.
Work through safety and privacy features on the apps that your child is using, or might use. Make sure they understand the point of these and how to use them. Don’t be put off by believing your child knows more then you.