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Cyber Safety for Younger Children

We need to talk with our children about being safe online. Children need boundaries to feel secure. The minimum age for Facebook and YouTube is 13 years, however these are the top two sites for under thirteen’s, where they spend approx. eighty minutes a day online according to recent studies.

Advice for Parents: Monitor

First and foremost, don't allow under 13's on Facebook and Instagram. Meta's own rules state that each account holder must be at least 13 years old because children below that age are less likely to understand the rules and connotations of posting on Meta apps. If you allow your child to have an account after 13 years old, but you are uncertain that they can be trusted to act maturely, consider setting up a rule whereby you have to know their password if they want an account. This will allow you to see anything they do using the app, and any people they message.

Alternatively, you can set up your own account and become "friends" with them on Facebook and Instagram, so that you can see all of their posts and activity, but not their messages. If you do check their messages and history, then be upfront and tell them that you will be doing so. Don't be afraid to say no to something they want to do, or have already done on any social network. Set limits on the amount of time they can spend on the app, and maintain the authority to tell them to remove anything that you deem to be inappropriate.

For younger children, who you are certain do not need any form of social media, there are non-smart phones. Older style phones with physical buttons and little to no internet capabilities are still available and cheaper than ever (€20+). They will still be able to text and make calls, but they will not be able to access Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or any other social media that you may not want them using. you can limit their night time usage by requiring your child to leave their phone downstairs, charging when they go to bed, whether it be a smart phone or otherwise.

Advice for Children/Teenagers to stay safe online

Know that you cant take something back after you post it. Even if you delete the post, there is no way for you to delete it completely. If you upload it, then Meta has it. If anyone else sees it, they can screenshot or save it. Parents need to tell their children/teens that they are responsible for their actions and accountable for whatever happens.

As a parent, no matter how much you want to turn back the clock you can’t and teens need to know therefore that the moment, they decide to hit the SEND or POST button that they will have to deal with the results of their actions.

What is Cyber Bullying?

It is bullying carried out using Internet, mobile phone.

  • It is psychological rather than physical
  • Hurtful messages/posts, emails, photos, pictures
  • Setting yourself up as someone else in a text message and being nasty
  • Using someone else’s accounts to make trouble for them
  • A once off incident is not bullying, but sustained, repeated & deliberate is
  • How is the technology used to bully? It is used to:
    1: To intimidate
    2: To impersonate by the setting up of a fake profile
    3: To exclude or block a person. To humiliate someone by posting something to embarrass them
Talk with your child/teen about the consequences of making poor choices and to be careful not to get caught up in something they did not intend.

Online Bullying may be 24/7

The difference with cyber bullying is that the contact is 24/7, traditional bullying meant that home was a safe haven, now there is no safe haven as bullying comes into the phone or tablet at night and into the bedroom, and parents may be unaware that this is happening. When a comment is put up on Facebook, the speed of contact and the audience is huge.
Talk with your child/teen about the power and the responsibility of the bystander. Failure to speak up otherwise results in unintentional complicity. Teenagers questioned say they don’t speak up as they are afraid that they may be the bully’s next target, so remind them they can always ‘report and incident’ to a parent or teacher.

Advice for someone who experiences bullying


Stop - Go Offline and log out of your devices


Do not respond to the bullies, as this may spur them on.


Tell yourself 'it's not your fault'.


Keep the evidence - Take screenshots.


Tell an adult, as they will be able to handle the situation.


Block the sender.


You may want to report the bullies (Gardai/mobile phone operator)

Tips for safer
Social Networking


Keep technology in open space for monitoring


Empower your child/teen to report


Discuss bullying behaviour with your teen


Understand your child/teens online behaviour


Ensure their Social Media profile is set to ‘private’


Don’t post personal information (address/school etc.)


Think before you post as you cannot get that photo back

This article was written by Sheila O Malley. Sheila owns Practical Parenting and offers courses, 1 to 1 support and School Talks as well as Company talks on Parenting and wellbeing. See for details. Book a One Day Saturday course from 10-4pm with a friend or partner and get the tips to need to support you in the hardest job you ever do!