Through your local council or fostering agency, you may feel equipped to deal with the vulnerabilities your child faces as a ‘looked after child’ in the real world, but how confident are you with the online world?
Rules and boundaries you set in the real world can apply online. It is advised that you take the time to read all of the information available on the parents and carers (link back to main page) pages and follow the top tips for your child’s age group. It is important to learn the technologies they use, the positive aspects of being online, but also what can go wrong.
As well as this there are specific risks looked after children may face online:
There are preventative methods you need to take as their carer pre-, during and post-placement to create a safer online environment.
You can find advice on the issues mentioned here on the Thinkuknow website. Click on the Parents/Carers link on the home page.
Many adopted children and young people encounter negative experiences in childhood. These experiences such as loss, grief and disrupted family lives can make them more vulnerable to risk both online and in the real world.
In the online world, they may be additional vulnerable to the range of risks that all children and young people face. Adopted children also face the possibility of contact from their birth family. This can pose additional risks. Sometimes birth families bypass the traditional route of using an adoption agency to find their relatives and instead use online sites such as Facebook to trace and locate them. Some adopted children also actively search for their birth relatives in secret; where they are successful, this can place them in risky situations.
For a child, finding their birth family when using the traditional channels can be emotional and challenging. Offline this would involve preparation and significant support; however the speed of the internet means online contact can be instant, direct and can happen without anyone knowing.
This contact causes additional complexities; what may start well and feel like a ‘honeymoon’ period, can quickly spiral out of control. The child could find themselves facing demands from additional relatives looking to make contact. These individuals may have varying accounts of the events leading up to the adoption which could leave the child confused and upset.
As an adoptive parent, it is important that you:
New technologies open up many exciting benefits and opportunities for children and young people but they can also present some risks. Technology is becoming all-pervasive, touching all areas of society, with children and young people having increasing access to personal technology such as web-enabled phones.
If you or your child would like more information please contact either: