Whether you like it or not, the average 10-yr-old child is very active online and is highly likely to have seen inappropriate content there. There’s a good chance they’ve been involved somehow with cyber bullying, whether as a victim, perpetrator or bystander. And they’ve possibly already shared content online – which could well include a nude selfie – that they’ll regret and that may affect their future.
Let’s take a closer look at what your 10-yr-old may be seeing and doing online and what you can do to keep them safe and happy there.
What Do 10-Yr-Olds See Online?
According to a survey of one thousand 10-15-yr-olds conducted by Daily Mail Australia, 11% of 10-yr-olds had been exposed to porn at home. This isn’t because children these days are actively looking for it – in fact there’s a good chance that when they see it for the first time they won’t know what it is. It’s more that there is just so much pornographic content online, and it’s very easy to stumble across it by accident.
Back in the “good old days”, you had to sneak into your parents room and find magazines if you really wanted to find this material. With the digital world as it is now, an innocent click online is just one click away from pornographic content that you don’t want your 10-yr-old child to see. And many children find it while they’re doing their homework online.
When 10-yr-olds see porn for the first time they think it’s gross. But for some children, the curious side of them makes them want to see more of it. This doesn’t make your child ‘naughty’ and shouldn’t lead to punishment as such. It’s just something to be aware of.
The other issue of course is that while your child may be confused by what they’re seeing online, it may seem embarrassing to them and as such they’re not likely to tell you about it. For this reason it’s a good idea to learn how to “porn-proof” your children at an early age – more information on how you can go about this here
Other Inappropriate Content
Unfortunately, pornographic content is only one type of inappropriate content your 10-year-old child is likely to find online. The Daily Mail survey mentioned above revealed that 28% of 10-yr-olds had seen violent and bloody scenes online. It’s easy to find this sort of content within video games as well as videos on YouTube and elsewhere.
When children are exposed to a lot of this content at an early age it can seem “normal” to them. They can become de-sensitized to what they’re seeing, and may be quick to use violence themselves when they’re not happy with someone else’s behaviour.
It comes as no surprise that cyber bullying is prevalent online. However what may be a little more surprising is the young age at which children are being negatively affected by it.
At a recent talk at a primary school with students aged 5-12 years I asked the students to raise their hands if they were on social media. I was surprised to see over 90% of children put their hands up. When I then asked them to keep their hand up if they’d seen any cyber bullying online I didn’t see a single hand go down.
The Daily Mail survey showed that ALL of the 10-15 year olds surveyed were worried about being targeted by cyber bullies. When you see a sample of just how mean children can be behind a screen, it’s no wonder our children are worried! The online world has taken general mean behaviour that children have always engaged in to a whole new terrifying level.
Fear Of The Internet
One of the statistics that surprised me from the Daily Mail survey was that 49% of the students surveyed were not just worried about cyber bullying but were scared of using the internet in general. This tells me they haven’t been guided well in how to use the internet safely, and in how to deal with issues that arise online.
The internet is a minefield, and expecting our children to know how to use it appropriately is both unfair and unrealistic. It’s almost like throwing children into a physical minefield and expecting them to dodge the mines!
If we’re going to give our children the opportunity to use the internet (which of course we all do) then we have the responsibility to teach them how to use it safely. We need our children to be able to enjoy the benefits of being online without suffering from the pitfalls.
What Do 10-Yr-Olds Do Online?
It’s concerning how many parents think they know what their children are doing online but don’t. For instance, if you were to ask a room full of parents if their 10-yr-old child was on social media, on average only about 20% would answer in the affirmative. Yet if you asked the children of those same parents if they were on social media, you’d get closer to 80% of children raising their hands.
The Daily Mail survey shows that 60% of children aged 10 or more are able to hide their online activity from their parents. There are many ways that children can do this. It really isn’t hard to find out how if you want to, a simple YouTube search will reveal plenty of videos showing various methods of hiding online activity.
The fact is that your 10-yr-old child is very tech-savvy. If they want to outsmart you with their use of technology they probably can. Trying to stay one step ahead of them as far as tech-savviness goes is trying to beat them at their own game and it rarely works. It’s helpful to remember after all that they are digital natives who don’t know of a life without screens they can swipe, as opposed to us having had to learn how to use technology and social media at a later point in our lives.
Posting Things They Regret – Without Thinking
Children aged ten are very good at posting without thinking. They just love to share what’s on their mind, and they’re simply not wired to consider the consequences of their actions before it’s too late.
The statistics from the Daily Mail survey were that 26% of 10 year olds already regretted posting something negative online, and that none of those students had thought about the effect of the comments they’d made.
For example, it’s common for a 10-year-old child to say something mean to another child online as a ‘joke’ – although it may not seem very funny to the child being targeted by it (the victim). What then often happens is that the nasty comment gains momentum online, and other children join in and torment the victim. The initial comment gets blown completely out of proportion and the victim soon becomes very distressed and isolated. This may then develop into anxiety and depression. The initial perpetrator is left feeling very guilty for what they’ve started and has lost all control over what started out as a ‘joke’.
As parents we need to understand that our 10-yr-old children are not yet mature enough to handle themselves well online. They need our guidance to help them stay out of trouble now more than ever.
How You Can Keep Your 10-Yr-Old Safe Online
The best thing you can do to keep your 10-yr-old safe online is to invest a small amount of time in your own education. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to register here for my next online webinar. You can watch it from home in your pyjamas if you like, and if you can’t make it live you can watch it on replay at a day and time that suits you. Either way, put the time aside and invest it in those most precious to you – you have nothing to lose and your child’s happiness and well-being to gain 🙂