Some of the main risks with this type of image being in the hands of someone else include:

  • Bullying – young people can be bullied by others about the content of pictures.
  • Distress – knowing that other people they do not know are looking at personal pictures can be very upsetting.
  • Blackmail – if the images end up in the hands of someone with bad intentions, they may be used to attempt to manipulate the child.
  • Reputation – once something is online it is very difficult to remove. Images can become part of a young person’s ‘digital footprint’ and potentially affect them in the long-term, such as if someone searches their name as part of a job interview.

Online reputation

Young people are growing up online and may be posting information which in the past would have been written in their secret diary. These thoughts, opinions and activities provide a window to their lives at a time where jobs and responsibility might be far from their minds.

The internet provides permanent records of these high and lows which, if not controlled carefully, may be accessible to future employers, universities or friends.

Young people should think about what they share, where they share it and who they share it with what seems funny now, may not do in the future.

Overuse/ addiction

With limitless information, endless games and the ability to escape from the real world, young people’s relationship with the internet can become unhealthy.

This can be a problem when a young person’s online behaviour diverts and distracts them from other activities – this might be school work, seeing their friends or even sleeping and eating.

The amount of time young people spend playing games can become unhealthy. If they are gaming against people around the world, they may want to be involved in activities that take place at unsociable hours and may find it difficult to stop. The fact that other players are real people can put pressure on young people to take part as they don’t want to let their gaming friends down.

Young people can be someone else online. Therefore, if they are unhappy in the real world, they may want to spend more time online.

As a parent or carer, you should be alert to the amount of time they are spending online and aware of the issues that might be causing a dependency.