Today, almost everything we do is online; be it for work, shopping for that online-only bargain, scrolling through the Facebook posts of people we haven’t seen in 15 years, even our children’s homework. And naturally, Generation Z completely out do us millennials when it comes to their technology astuteness. Our vigilance and guidance however, is crucial to ensuring we protect our children, allowing them to have positive but most importantly safe experiences when they are online.
Exposure to social media and the world online can be essential in creating a rich and diverse experience that otherwise they would miss out on; however it can also be home to dangerous strangers, cyber bullying and unrealistic, unobtainable (and normally photoshopped) model images which negatively skew body image.
My eldest daughter is now 8 years of age, I have until recently, never posted a photo of either her or her younger sister (1) to social media and never allowed their photos to be shared online. My original rationale for doing so was simply because I knew, as children, they were unable to consent to their photos being used in this way. I know it sounds silly, however I knew I would dislike it, as an adult and probably a teenager, if my parents posted a picture of me online that I really didn’t want to be there. Therefore, why shouldn’t I allow my children the right to make an informed decision, when they reached an age where they were capable of understanding what posting a picture online means. At 8 years old, as most parents will know, my daughter now knows, or thinks she knows, her own mind and is slowly starting to make conscious, independent decisions. For example, she loves drama and attends a performance arts school. As part of this she has her photo online for casting opportunities, a decision we allowed her to make. She is also slowly beginning to understand the world of social media too and will no doubt request a phone for an upcoming Christmas or Birthday so she can share SnapChats with her school friends. I’m dreading it. However, I know this is all part and parcel of the digital era we live in and we need to allow her to embrace it… safely.
I’m all too aware of the dangers this poses and although I want her to grow up without feeling overly protected or wrapped in cotton wool, I also want her to be aware of and recognise signs of danger when she is online. This includes being able to recognise online bullying, ensuring as her parent’s we have blocked inappropriate content and make sure she knows what is and isn’t ok to share.
We all love our children more than life itself and I know we would do anything to protect them, however I worry that sometimes the internet can be unintentionally overlooked.
As an online children’s clothing store, coupled with our own values, we therefore feel it is only right our company implements a corporate social responsibility policy. A policy that aims to raise awareness of the dangers our children can face online and how as parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles… we do everything we can to protect them.
Esmé Lauren is therefore pleased to announce that we will be supporting the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). We recently met with their local fundraising manager Katy, who demonstrated the fantastic work the NSPCC do both locally and nationally to support and protect our children.
For example, the NSPCC have collaborated with o2 to bring together a programme working with families to help keep children safe online. There is not only information for children, but also how as parents, we can keep them safe. For more information please visit; https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-we-do/about-us/partners/nspcc-o2-online-safety-partnership/
NSPCC also run the ‘Speak Out Stay Safe’ programme. Many children who suffer abuse do not know what it is or why it is wrong. NSPCCs pioneering schools service delivers lively, interactive and memorable assemblies to help children understand the different types of abuse and who to go to if they need to. Last year the NSPCC visited 344 schools in the North East of England, reaching over 76,702 children and this programme of work is undertaken on a national basis throughout England. Through this programme, they can encourage children to call Childline and report abuse that otherwise might not have been picked up.
The NSPCC aims to do everything they can to protect children today, prevent abuse tomorrow and transform society to make child abuse, whether on or offline a thing of the past.
For as little as £60 the NSPCC can answer 15 calls for help via Childline. For £200 they can provide 8 hours of practitioner support and for £580 they can run a Speak Out Stay Safe programme visit a primary school, speaking to every child aged 5 – 11, equipping them with the knowledge to protect themselves from abuse.
Esmé Lauren have therefore committed to supporting the NSPCC for the next year and during this time we will be supporting their work, fundraising and even donating a proportion of sales to support what we believe to be an invaluable and imperative charity for our communities.
If you would like to know more about the work NSPCC do, please visit www.nspcc.org.uk
To make a donation to the NSPCC please visit; https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/esme-lauren