We were talking in the office recently about the case of Ollie Robinson, the young England cricketer who has been suspended pending a disciplinary investigation after it was discovered that he had posted racist and sexist Tweets when he was a teenager.
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The Tweets do make for uncomfortable reading. But whether or not you feel that Robinson should have been suspended in this way, it does bring the subject of the ‘permanence’ of our social media posts to the forefront. It’s a subject that I see very often in our presentations and it can flummox the most savvy students – the idea that what we write or post in public doesn’t ever really go away, and can resurface years later. It’s useful to have Robinson as a real-life example that the children may have heard about to show the concept in action.
Words are one thing; photos are quite another. In our primary school talks we particularly focus on photographs and videos, and how sending them to strangers (and sometimes even friends) means we lose all control of our images and can’t stop them being copied and shared across the internet. It is a tricky concept for children to try to understand that those photos can’t be deleted or ‘recalled’, and that more importantly, they are out there for ever: when they are teens, when they are adults, when they have their own families – those photos can continue to cause unending angst and stress. We focus on the concept that it is against the law for anyone to ask them for these photos or videos, so if anyone DOES, the best thing to do is leave the conversation and go to tell a trusted adult, knowing that they will not get into trouble. Rather, they will br praised for knowing how to protect themselves. Children who have been caught up in these situations often feel immense shame, confusion and embarrassment so we work hard to support and give an encouraging tone to the idea of ‘reporting’ such requests to trusted adults.
Do your children understand the permanence of pictures or things they post online? If you’ve had a conversation with your child and learnt something new please let us know!