As a foster parent (or if you are thinking of becoming a foster parent) it is important to be aware of the internet, how it can be useful and how to protect yourself, your family and your foster child or young person online.
Before foster placement
Social media sites such as facebook, Instagram and twitter are very popular with people of all ages these days, so if you are not already aware of these sites, have a look into them so you understand how they are used. If you, or anyone in your family, uses social media sites it is important to be aware of your security settings in order to only make your profile and the things you share public to those you wish. Setting parental controls on all forms of technology is another important step to take before your foster child is placed with you.
What are the risks?
The internet can be a great resource and help young people to connect with their friends, find information or play games, however there are also some risks associated with internet usage. The main risks to consider when dealing with the online safety of your foster child include:
1. Contact from birth parents and relatives
2. Accessing inappropriate content
3. Ignoring age restrictions on websites
4. Communicating with people they do not know
5. Sharing personal information
6. Online bullying
So how can you ensure your foster child is kept safe online?
It is often advised that children and young people in care have limited, regulated or little contact with birth parents or family from their past. The internet can pose an additional challenge to this. It is worth remembering that if the contact wouldn’t be allowed to happen in person, then this applies to on the internet also.
Here are some more ways to ensure your foster child is safe online:
1. Talk to the child about using the internet early in their placement and often
2. Ensure you know who they are talking to online
3. Check privacy settings and set age restrictions and parental controls
4. Explore the internet with them
5. Agree clear rules and boundaries of internet use
For more information about becoming a foster carer, contact us today.