Fake news surrounds us all, and life online means young people are constantly bombarded by it! Whilst the internet is packed with a mind-blowing amount of information and opportunities for young people, how do they separate fact from fiction and stay safe online?
Equipping young people with the skills they need to check reliability and to stay safe online is what today’s Safer Internet Day (9 February) is all about. And never has this been more important than today when young people are spending their days logging on for lessons.
Our Respect ME team are all about tackling the hot topics young people face head on from a Christian point of view.
We caught up with one of our Respect ME tutors, who told us about a schools lesson she ran where she met a teenage girl who, despite starting with innocent conversations, had quickly found herself caught up in the darker side of the internet.
‘I visited a school to deliver a lesson on consent talking about respect, love versus lust, and how to make good choices that safeguard ourselves and others. After the lesson Sophie* asked to speak to me with a teacher. She said that she’d been challenged by the lesson, felt she could trust me and wanted to talk. Sophie went on to tell me that for a long time she’d been sending nude and sexual images of herself to a man she had only met online. Initially, she’d felt safe, but as time went on she didn’t want to send them anymore and then his behaviour had changed and he started threatening to share the pictures and tell others.
‘Too afraid to tell her Mum as she was scared she’d let her down, Sophie felt trapped and didn’t know where to turn.
‘In the lesson I’d spoken about God’s unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness regardless of past mistakes. I was able to tell her how loved she was by Jesus and speak words of truth and hope into her life. Together, we worked out a plan to get her the help she needed and got the schools Safeguarding Lead helping Sophie.
‘When I was next at the school, Sophie found me to say thank you. She wanted me to know her life was in a better place, that she no longer had contact with this man and that her relationship with her mother was restored. She felt confident, more peaceful and was finding out more about Jesus. She felt the burden had been lifted off her life.’
Living Online is just one of the topics covered by The Message Today our online series exploring the hot topics young people are currently facing. Why not check this out below:
Watch more from The Message Today here.