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The CyberSquad initiative stems from the continuous collaboration between stakeholders from the sectors involved. Together, let’s help teenagers be happy and safe online!
For young people ages 13 to 17, the impact of the ever-increasing use of online tools is not to be underestimated. Cyber harassment, for instance, affects a growing number of teenagers in Europe and globally. Belgium is no exception: 90% of our teenagers are online regularly and more than 80% of them use social media daily. Their smartphone is by far their main tool for staying connected. Teenagers use their phone to share their social life, both behind their screen and in real life.
Young people are living their best lives online, but sometimes it goes wrong. At that point, seeking help is often difficult.
The Child Focus hotline is not the best tool to deal with how the new generation is behaving online. Teenagers need other ways to ask questions and talk about the problems they face while connected. They also need to discuss their problems with and questions about love, friendship, digital relationships, privacy, reputation and, of course, digital safety.
Parents remain an important source of information or help for their children. But sometimes the perspective of another teenager talks even louder.
« I designed Cyber Squad with us in mind »
Clara, 23 years old
« I manage content gathering and publication. I also provide on-line help »
Julie, 18 years old
« I help online whenever I have free time »
Akim, 19 years old
It aims to provide teenagers with a platform where they can come together and never have to face such situations, which can prove difficult to deal with, alone. They can meet online and ask each other questions. They can share anecdotes and experiences and help each other. CyberSquad was created by teenagers for teenagers as an online movement to provide mutual help. Everywhere on the web, teenagers are getting together to avoid the pitfalls and traps associated with the fact that their everyday life is becoming more and more digital. CyberSquad is also a meeting point, where young people can find professional help when they need it, such as advice, information and emergency solutions to a particular issue. This lets them participate in creating a safer internet for themselves and for their peers.
The Cyber Squad movement
CyberSquad is a platform where teenagers can get together to break their isolation and the powerlessness they feel when faced with difficult situations they encounter when connected. The goal is to launch a series of viral actions, codes and signals together with young people to help them avoid the traps and pitfalls of their everyday use of digital tools. A Facebook page, hashtags, slogans and lots of other actions are being designed together with them to create a wave of continuous mutual online support. Advice is also offered to help ensure their privacy and protect the confidentiality of what they share online. Together we can help our teenagers be happy online by making the internet a safer place.Source: Child Focus
The Cyber Squad platform
CyberSquad is a website with numerous tools to help teenagers find information and help each other with such issues as sexuality, love, friendship, digital relationships, privacy and reputation, as well as digital safety. It also allows them to share codes and indicators when they face situations involving cyber harassment and sexual abuse.
Teenagers can participate in the platform freely and without any restrictions. No subject is taboo. However, activities are monitored and moderated by professionals from Child Focus to avoid problems or help distressed teenagers immediately.Source: Child Focus
Together, Child Focus and teenagers can engage in dialogue about the issues that impact their online habits and behaviour, thereby promoting a safer internet environment. We can all contribute to the success of CyberSquad. How? The following questions and answers show what you can do to help.
How to ensure your teen’s safety and privacy online?
- Make sure that confidentiality settings are set properly in all of your child’s social media accounts.
- Make sure that your child knows not to share or communicate passwords.
- Make sure your child knows how to block, delete or report anyone who disturbs them online.
How to be there for your teen without spying?
- Learn the basics of social media and get to know the digital world better.
- Listen without being judgemental.
- Never check your child’s digital tools without informing him or her beforehand and without his or her prior approval.
- Get yourself on social media without imposing on your child’s digital life.
- Be discrete.
How to react in difficult situations?
- Stay calm and express a level-headed attitude to your child. They will be reassured if they think you don’t see the situation as out of control or desperate.
- Encourage your teen to talk to you instead of telling them what to do and how to react.
- Don’t ask your teen to justify his or her actions or tell you what they don’t want to explain.
- Encourage your teen to talk to you about what’s bothering him or her and/or to contact outreach platforms like CyberSquad.
- Never act without telling your teen: don’t take action without his or her prior approval.
How to prevent situations that are harmful to your teen’s digital well-being?
How to prevent situations that are harmful to your teen’s digital well-being
- Make sure your child’s privacy settings are set properly in social media and they know how to block any unsolicited contact.
- Communicate, don’t instruct.
- Listen to your teen without being judgmental.
- Encourage your child to use outreach platforms like CyberSquad.
- Make sure you understand how online communication platforms work and their pitfalls.
How to talk with your teen about relationships and sexuality in a digital world
As far as teenagers are concerned, human relations and sexuality have changed radically. Both online and off, young people live a double, overlapping life. Parents are very often confused about what’s happening in their teen’s life.
Even though, as a parent, you’re not the best person to talk with your child about these issues, don’t hesitate to be open to discussion and dialogue – without judgement or bias.
Give your teen the opportunity to talk to you freely and spontaneously. If necessary, refer him or her to a professional and/or platform like CyberSquad, where your child will probably find the answers he or she is looking for.Source: Child Focus
Online reputation is both elusive and fragile
How can our children deal with the fear of losing their reputation from one day to the next?
- Explain to your child that we live in a time when everything we say or do is visible from the moment it happens online.
- Not everything has to be posted publicly: discuss with your teen the importance of both their own privacy and that of others.
- Don’t make things worse than they are, but don’t ignore the sometimes complex everyday events in your child’s life.
- Nothing is final and nothing is beyond repair: an online reputation is as elusive as it is dynamic. What’s true one day is not necessarily true the next.
Youngsters often have lots of questions, of course, but then so do their parents. Which is what you’d expect from a rapidly changing digital world where you have to keep moving just to stand still.
But, together, we can find the answers.
Child Focus, with the support of Molengeek, Google and Test Achats is launching the www.cybersquad.be platform, aimed at and co-built with teenagers. The aim is to offer them a forum where they can exchange and share issues and ideas, as well as find answers and get help about their online concerns.