Lucy Stevens - 1st February 2024
In 2024 foster carers are caring for children who have grown up with the Internet. Social media is a spinal cord, giving structure and direction to and exerting massive influence on their lives. Undeniably the internet presents advantages but also challenges for children, young people and carers alike. The speed at which technology has enmeshed itself into modern life and culture and the rate at which AI is gathering pace, presents foster carers with a significant challenge when it comes to keeping children safe. So how do Eastern Fostering Services, out foster carers and our young people work together to reduce the risk of harm posed by the internet?
It’s good to talk
At Eastern Fostering Services we are so proud of our Young person’s forum “Choices for Young Voices.” This group of young people, all of whom are cared for through Eastern Fostering Services, meet regularly to discuss the things that matter to them and to have a say in how we shape the fostering service. One of the things they regularly discuss is their online safety. At a recent session, the young people produced a ten step guide to keeping themselves safe online. We have been able to share this guide with our foster carers to enable them to have conversations with their children and young people.
One of the most important things when it comes to keeping children safe online is to foster an environment of openess and honesty so that any problems can be quickly shared and discussed without fear of judgment or sanction. Choices for Young Voices really helps to support these conversations.
How to keep up?
Technology moves fast! And not only that; it is designed to be completely intuitive for young people to use. Young people are much more able to keep up and respond to the evolution of technology. It is designed to be attractive, instinctive and addictive to their brains. So foster carers can be left red-faced and wheezing as they run the race to keep up. Support comes in the form of knowledge sharing. Our foster carers are offered the opportunity to attend regular support groups. In these get-togethers carers are able to share any issues they have had, any new apps that they’re getting to grips with and share learnings and advice with one another. This is probably one of the most useful tools in a foster carer’s arsenal. Knowledge is powerful and can help open up new conversations between foster carers and their children and young people.
A learning curve
Eastern Fostering Services recognises the need to keep up with advances in technology in terms of safeguarding our children and young people. We have a responsibility to provide regular, up-to-date training to our carers and offer general and individualised support to our children and young people. Every year, we put on training for our carers that will equip them with the knowledge they need to confidently manage the presence of the internet in their fostering families.
If you’d like to know more about how we support our carers and children, please contact us at email@example.com or call us on 01206 299775. Alternatively you can messsage us on Facebook or Instagram. #SaferInternetDay