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Safe online browsing – Tips for LGBTQ+ CYP

Safe online browsing
Children and young people who are LGBTQ+ are being supported.
All young people, LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ, should be encouraged to use the internet securely; there are inherent hazards for all young people, and for LGBTQ young people, these risks can include exposure to improper content or incorrect advice about sexual orientation and identity exploration.

What you should know
For LGBTQ+ children and young people, the internet is critical for connecting with who they are and exploring this aspect of their identity. As previously stated, kids are no more at risk than any other child or young person when browsing the internet, but some of their browsing habits may expose them to potentially dangerous threats.
The Advantages
Your child can use the internet to discover what they enjoy, complete school activities, connect with friends, and gain a better understanding of issues that influence the world around them.

Along with the obvious benefits that browsing the internet provides to all children and young people, there are several unique benefits that can assist an LGBTQ+ child or young person in becoming more empowered, such as:

Positive LGBTQ+ news items are easily accessible.
Access to LGBTQ+-specific websites and news outlets that cover a wide range of good news stories about being LGBTQ+ from around the world, which conventional news channels frequently ignore.

Safe online browsing - Tips for LGBTQ+ CYP
Safe online browsing – Tips for LGBTQ+ CYP

Supportive communities and advice
Access to support groups and counsel that can assist them in navigating early relationships, coming out to friends and relatives, and remaining safe.

Campaigning on the internet
Understanding and participating in online campaigning will assist them in developing a feeling of community with like-minded individuals as well as increasing their understanding of issues that impact them.

Investigate your identity and passions.
Being able to delve further into their passions and what makes them unique, independent of their sexual or romantic orientation or gender identity.

The Dangers
Unsupervised and unfettered browsing online, like any other activity online, carries risks for any child or young person. However, there are several challenges that may occur for an LGBTQ+ kid or young person, including:

Reading news reports on anti-LGBTQ+ issues from around the world
While it is important for your kid or young person to be informed about current events, reading about anti-LGBTQ+ campaigns or policies may have a long-term negative influence on their self-esteem and sense of safety.

Trying to find or encountering pornography
Because there isn’t enough LGBTQ+ sex education in schools, many teens and young people in the community resort to the internet to learn about sex and relationships. This may expose kids to improper content, which may have an impact on their future views on sex and relationships, as well as their body image and self-esteem.

Putting yourself in danger by accepting potentially detrimental advice or support on specific themes
There is a lot of information out there, but many children and young people may not be able to tell the difference between reality and fiction, and good guidance from bad advice. Children and young people who identify as LGBTQ+ are more likely to utilize the internet to find solutions to specific questions, especially if they do not have access to an offline group. As a result, they are more likely to be exposed to potentially hazardous content.

Getting involved with conversion treatment materials

Even though the United Kingdom just passed legislation prohibiting all forms of conversion therapy, there is still a lot of information about gay conversion therapy available online. As a result, LGBTQ+ children and young people have been known to seek a “cure” for their sexuality, particularly if they lack an offline support system. These resources are exceedingly harmful, frequently advocating for the use of toxic or untested drugs as well as self-harm as a means of ‘curing’ sexuality.

It is critical to be aware of the following:

While LGBTQ+ children and young people are no more in danger from internet browsing than any other child or young person, their browsing patterns may differ, and this is where the risk lies.
Internet browsing is a useful tool, and LGBTQ+ children and young people are likely to use it to explore essential aspects of their sexual or gender identity, as well as to find a group to belong to.

The Obstacles
As children and young people become more active online, providing them with the room to thrive while addressing the threats they encounter becomes more difficult. Other difficulties include:

Using the internet to investigate one’s identity
Allowing your child or young person to explore elements of their sexuality and stay in touch with who they are is a critical aspect of internet use for LGBTQ+ kids and teens. Cutting them off from this could have an influence on their capacity to comprehend their sexuality, which many LGBTQ+ children and young people struggle with.

Expectations based on culture or religion
There may be cultural or religious demands placed on your child by their school, their family, or the society in which they reside. As a result, individuals can have formed views that are incompatible with their sexual orientation. There are Christian communities that are welcoming and tolerant of LGBTQ+ individuals, and it’s critical that they know where to look for them. Here’s where you can learn more.

Fake news’ dangers
It can be tough to help youngsters distinguish between reality and fiction, as well as the hazards of fake news and unsuitable counsel, especially since so much of it is difficult for even the most educated adults to comprehend.

Taking up the topic of pornography
Pornography and the sexualization of LGBTQ+ persons are challenging topics for anybody to discuss, and having this conversation with your child can be awkward.

For children and teenagers, the internet is an indispensable toolkit.
Given the amount of coursework that requires an internet connection, it is impossible to completely shut children off from technology and browsing.

What should you think about it?

LGBTQ+ problems around the world

Even in 2020, there are still many locations throughout the world that are hostile to LGBTQ+ individuals, and this frequently makes the news. It’s crucial to have an open conversation with your child about this so that they feel safe and are aware of any precautions they need to take when traveling. Before having this chat with them, consider the following points:

It is not the goal to frighten them. Despite progress in LGBTQ+ rights, the world may still be a challenging place for these children and teenagers.
Talking about sad news stories can be tough, and scaring children into believing they are unable to express themselves is not the intention, but it may be an unintended consequence of the talk.
Instead of focusing on all of the horrific things LGBTQ+ people have gone through throughout the world, try to focus on how far LGBTQ+ rights have come, and how, while some areas still have a long way to go, they should not feel afraid to express themselves.
Ascertain that they are aware of the challenges LGBTQ+ persons face in your nation, as well as any steps they can take to protect themselves from harm, both online and offline. This may be a frightening subject for you to address with them, as their well-being is your primary responsibility, but it’s critical that you remain cool and honest with them.

Steps to do to safeguard them
Despite the risks that you may be concerned about, it is vital to realize that the internet is a strong and immensely valuable tool for children and young people. Opening the dialogue about some of the potential areas of risk is necessary to ensure that you are both on the same page, but you must strike a balance between making them aware of the dangers and frightening them away from using the internet to learn more about themselves.

Actions you can take
More practical things you can do to assist kids to regulate what they see online and identify content that will boost their well-being and help them succeed in their digital world are listed below.

Putting parental restrictions in place
If you’re worried about your child watching pornography online, parental controls and filters are an easy way to keep them from coming across it. However, you should pair this with dialogue because filters don’t always prevent everything. t They will be taught about safe sex as part of their PSHE at school, but this is primarily aimed toward heterosexuality, so be prepared to answer any concerns they may have.

Look for LGBTQ+-friendly websites for them.

Many websites, online periodicals, and news channels are dedicated to or very supportive of LGBTQ+ persons. Find some of them and suggest them to your child as a way for them to explore their identity and connect with LGBTQ+ topics without being exposed to highly negative, hurtful, or frightening headlines.

Allow them to come to you for help by having an open-door policy.
Being present for your child is one of the finest ways to safeguard them. Tell them you’ll be there to have an open and honest conversation with them about what they’re seeing online, and that you won’t pass any judgment. It’s about pointing kids in the right direction and teaching them how to develop healthy internet habits, not about punishing them for making poor choices.

Discussions to have
Pornography
Obviously, this is a difficult topic for you to discuss with your child, and it should be approached in an age-appropriate manner. If your child is younger, you may not feel it is important to discuss this, but teenagers are much more likely to be exposed to it. When starting a discussion about this topic, there are a few things to consider:

Try not to be overly self-conscious.
We understand that this is easier said than done, but if you are visibly uncomfortable when discussing sex or exploring sexuality, your child is likely to pick up on this attitude.

Remember that allowing your youngster to explore is not a bad thing.
Exploring this aspect of themselves (assuming they are of legal age) and being obviously uneasy may have an impact on their future views on sex and relationships.

Don’t accuse anyone.
You’re not accusing them of looking at pornography or doing anything wrong; instead, you’re encouraging them to tell you about anything they’ve seen that makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

Recognize why your youngster has accessed pornography.
Consider how you may assist them in meeting that desire in a better manner. Are there age-appropriate and factually correct materials they can look at to assist answer their queries about what sex entails, for example? If they’re feeling pressured by their classmates because ‘everyone’s doing it,’ talk to them about how it’s okay to feel pressured, but that it’s also vital to respect their own and others’ boundaries, as well as the law.

False information and inappropriate guidance
Fake news is difficult to navigate for everyone, especially minority populations. This is because they are frequently the targets of fake news, which can lead them and people close to them to believe lies about themselves or loved ones. Not only is false news a problem, but there is a lot of worthless or damaging advice on the internet that people who aren’t well-versed in that field may choose to follow.

Self-education is essential.
Make an effort to educate oneself. Make sure you know how to spot fake news and teach your children how to recognize the signals.

Have a conversation about what they see on the internet.
Discuss what they’re looking for on the internet with them and try to figure out what problems they’re trying to solve with it.

Point them in the direction of trustworthy sources of information.
Identify with them the kind of help or advice that can be obtained from trustworthy sources, as well as where to look for these sources. Try to prevent them from seeking advice on sites like Reddit or other similar forums, for example, because they are not monitored and can often contain potentially dangerous information.

Managing Problems
Here are some crucial things to remember if your child comes across something online that bothers them:
Inquire as to how they came across the stuff that disturbed or concerned them – did they go out of their way to find it? Did they happen to come across it?
Inquire about the content – was it hate speech, pornography, or something else that troubled them from all over the world?
Talk to them about how it made them feel – did it make them feel scared? Traumatized? Do they have any concerns or questions regarding what they’ve seen or read?
Assure them that they are not in any danger and that you are only checking in to see how they are doing. If they believe they are in danger, they may become more covert about their internet activities in the future.
If they feel that talking to you isn’t the greatest option, refer them to other sources of help, such as other family members, family friends, their school, or professional organizations like Childline.
Review parental controls with your child and determine which ones, if any, should be tightened.
Tell them that, while getting online is convenient and necessary, it’s fine to feel the need to take a vacation from it.
If they’re worried about some pornography they’ve seen, it’s crucial to know what it was and how serious it was. Even though this will be a tough and unpleasant talk to have, you must know this in order to proceed with dealing with the hurt they have caused.
If you believe your child’s welfare or mental health is being jeopardized by online hazards, talk to their doctor about it, or refer them to organizations like Young Minds for more help.

To assist youngsters in browsing safely online, set them up for success.

More practical things you can do to assist kids to regulate what they see online and identify content that will boost their well-being and help them succeed in their digital world are listed below.

Controls imposed by parents
If you’re concerned about your child watching pornography online, parental controls and filters are an easy approach to keep them from coming across it. However, you should combine this with dialogue because filters don’t always prevent everything. They will be taught about safe sex at school as part of PSHE, and it was recently confirmed that LGBTQ+ education must now be included in this education. However, there may still be some holes for LGBTQ+ youth that you must complete, so be ready to answer any questions they may have.

Look for LGBTQ+-friendly websites for them.

Many websites, online periodicals, and news channels are dedicated to or extremely supportive of LGBTQ+ persons. Find a few of them and suggest them to your child as a way for them to explore their identity and connect with LGBTQ+ topics without being exposed to highly negative, hurtful, or frightening headlines.

Keeping yourself safe when gaming

Children and young people who are LGBTQ+ are being supported.

Online gaming is extremely popular among kids and teenagers. Most children and teenagers have had internet gaming experience, whether through phones and mobile devices, PCs, or game consoles. However, there are some aspects of gaming that may expose LGBTQ+ adolescents and teenagers to bullying or homophobic, biphobic, or transphobic terminology.

What you should know
It is crucial to emphasize that, while people of both genders participate in online gaming, it is and has traditionally been dominated by men. As a result, women and girls have discovered that they are frequently unfairly targeted and that they are subjected to gendered abuse as well as sexist/misogynistic words and behaviors, some of which are sexual in character.
Statistically, young female gamers, whether LGBTQ+ or not, are at the biggest risk of verbal harassment in online games.

The Advantages
Even if you don’t understand why your child wants to spend so much time online gaming, there is evidence that there are numerous advantages to doing so as a hobby. Online gaming is beneficial to all young people, LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+, however, there may be additional benefits for LGBTQ+ young people, such as:

Enhance key abilities
Finding an activity that your child enjoys, especially if they are LGBTQ+, may be quite liberating. It allows kids to hone abilities like strategy and decision-making, as well as express themselves and speak with people with confidence.

Maintain friendships that already exist.
It can help kids strengthen existing bonds with friends and peers who share their interests in video games. This may result in them getting to know the people in their lives better and feeling more comfortable coming out or embracing who they are among friends.

Friendship groups can be found online.
Some young individuals may form internet friendships with strangers they meet while playing video games. Although this may worry you, especially because it would require them to converse with strangers, there is evidence that online gaming can lead to long-term friendships.

The Dangers
There are various concerns associated with online gaming, most of which revolve around hate speech and bullying that occurs in-game.

Trolling and cyberbullying
Bullying is a serious problem in online gaming. According to Ditch the Label, an international anti-bullying organization, 57 percent of young people have been bullied in an online game, which can have a significant influence on a young person’s mental health.
According to Stonewall’s research, 40% of LGBT young people have encountered online homophobic, biphobic, or transphobic abuse.
Witnessing hate speech is also a danger, particularly if an LGBTQ+ child or young person is openly out in the online gaming community. Again, in online gaming, 57 percent of young people have been exposed to this.
Trolling is a challenging component of online gaming, and 64% of young people have been heavily trolled.

Sexual contact that isn’t wanted
Unwanted sexual interaction was also experienced by 40% of young people in an online game.
Being named and shamed
LGBTQ+ children and young people face a risk of being out in an online gaming environment that others do not.

Without consent, personal information is disseminated.
Another general risk for children and young people is having personal information shared in an online game, whether they disclose it without knowing the hazards or if others share it without their agreement.

It is critical to be aware of the following:

In online gaming, not all LGBTQ+ young people will wish to come out as LGBTQ+.
LGBTQ+ children and young people are also more likely to play online with classmates from school or hobbies, as well as strangers they meet through online gaming, and thus with people who may already be aware of their gender or sexual identity. This may not inherently raise the danger of injury, but it may mean that they have no way of warning other gamers about it.
Any sort of online communication with strangers, regardless of format or platform, carries a certain element of risk. However, in online games, interaction can be kept brief, and all children and young people, regardless of the game they are playing, have the freedom to exit a game or competition at any time.

The Obstacles
Although it may appear that prohibiting your child from playing online games would be better for their mental and physical well-being, this is not possible, and there are numerous obstacles associated with balancing their well-being with their enjoyment of this specific hobby.

Gaming has become the new schoolyard.
Outside of school, they are likely to use online gaming to communicate with friends and peers.
Going online for gaming on a regular basis is sociable, and they may have developed a network of pals that they are unwilling to abandon, especially if they are only communicating with those people online.

Reporting events is difficult.
There are flaws with in-game reporting of cyberbullying, and it can be difficult to locate the reporting section within the game.

Cyberbullying is regarded as harmless ribbing.
Cyberbullying in online gaming can be difficult for children and teenagers to spot, and it’s frequently misconstrued as “banter.”

Fear of being kicked out of the community if a report is filed
Witnessing hate speech in online games, in particular, maybe something LGBTQ+ children and young people are afraid to discuss with you for fear of losing their interest and community. Telling someone about anti-LGBT hate speech can also be difficult for LGBTQ young people who aren’t out yet, because the young person may think that doing so will mean coming out as LGBTQ.

Personal information management
Finally, LGBTQ+ children and young people may believe that as long as they are not “out” online, none of this will be a problem for them because no one in their environment will be aware of their sexual orientation. They may not realize, however, that they do not always have control over the flow of their personal information online, and that others “outing” them is still a possibility.

Steps to do to safeguard them
Risk-avoidance tools and guidance
Even if you can’t be there to moderate with them, there are a number of things you can do to assist safeguard your child from online harassment in a game. By far the best approach to begin to understand them and the nature of any harassment that may occur is to have an open dialogue with them about their gaming habits, who they game with online, and why they like it so much.

Actions you can take
Play with them for a while.
Playing the game with your child is the greatest way to understand why they are prepared to risk being harassed or bullied in it. Recognize what aspects of the game people appreciate, such as the strategy, competition, or social aspects. It will also help you evaluate just how at risk they are by understanding how things are communicated within the game and the amount of inappropriate language or contact that may occur in an ordinary session.

Learn how to file a report of abuse.
Have a discussion with your youngster about their favorite games and do some research of your own. Learn how to report abuse in their favorite games and what the reporting procedures are for the game’s creators. You may never need it, but knowing how to do it will offer you peace of mind in knowing that you can go deeper if and when you need to. Because reporting differs by game, platform, and publisher, it’s best to learn more about it each of your child’s favorite games.

Talk to your youngster about the dangers of oversharing.
All children and young people should be aware of the dangers of oversharing on the internet. Have a conversation with your child about the hazards and benefits of freely disclosing their sexuality in online gaming. This isn’t meant to make kids ashamed of their sexuality; rather, it’s meant to protect them from hurtful abuse or hate speech. When discussing this with them, bear in mind that even if they choose to keep their sexuality or gender identity private, comments of this nature may still be thrown around casually in this environment.

Set aside time for gaming.
Talk to them about their gaming time, just as you would with social media use, and make sure they can balance it with a good sleeping pattern and all of their other commitments. Older gamers are more likely to be online late at night and into the morning, whilst younger gamers are more likely to be online before and after school. Make an effort to create a schedule that will safeguard them from older gamers who are more prone to be aggressive or use bad language in the chat section.

Discussions to have
Discuss what they get out of the game experience with them.
What do they like to do? What would they change if they had the power to do so? When they’re playing, who do they talk to the most?

Determine what kind of information they are disseminating with them.
Do they use their true names when they play games? What is your true age? Is it a matter of gender identity or sexual orientation? Remind them that they have complete control over what they share with others online. Also, discuss the necessity of not revealing personal or identifying information with strangers with children.

Inquire if they’ve ever seen bullying in online gaming.
Asking them directly if they have been bullied or if they have bullied others is unlikely to get a genuine response, since they may be afraid of losing access to the game. Asking if they’ve ever seen it before will help you figure out if it’s happening where they play.

Taking care of online problems
As a parent or caretaker of an LGBTQ+ child or adolescent, you may be concerned about how to address in-game abuse and bullying that your child may face. To assist you in dealing with these potential concerns, we’ve included suggestions for what you can do and where you may get help and advice.

Things to keep in mind
It’s crucial to realize that your child may not be aware of these dangers and may have never seen bullying, hate speech, or any other type of harm in a game before. As a result, there may be nothing you need to worry about in this situation. Nonetheless, it is critical to be prepared for the possibility that these challenges will occur at any time, and having an action plan in place to help them will give you the confidence you need to provide the assistance they require.

Also, because young people may be afraid of having to come out (or losing access to the game) if they tell a caregiver about the bullying, it’s vital to keep an eye out for any changes in behavior that could signal a young person is being bullied.

What are the most pressing concerns?
In-game bullying
Bullying in a game can be difficult for your child or adolescent to deal with, as games are frequently used to unwind, relax, or socialize with friends and peers. Bullying may drive individuals away from what they enjoy and have an impact on their mental health if it occurs frequently.

Coping mechanisms
Have an open and honest conversation with your child about the types of bullying that are occurring, how frequently they occur, and which game or platform they occur on.
Learn how to report bullying in various games — it varies a lot from one game to the next from platform to platform.
Assure them that they are not alone in this and that you are there to help.
If the game is having a negative effect on their mental health, suggest they take a vacation from it for a bit. It will assist them in realizing that this is not the entirety of their lives.

Where can I get help and advice?
Remove the Label
Anti-Bullying Coalition
0800 1111 (Childline) (open 24 hours)
Support for mental health

Consider sending your child to a GP for help if they are having trouble with their mental health as a result of bullying. They can refer you to a therapist or other mental health treatments.

Young Minds (open 9.30 a.m. to 4 p.m.) – 0808 802 5544
The Samaritans can be reached at +44 (0)8457 90 90 90. (open 24 hours)

Experiencing Hate Speech
Hate speech is common in online gaming platforms, and it can happen even if your child or young person is not online, as it is often used as a general insult by many gamers. Witnessing a major episode of hate speech, whether directed towards your kid or young person or not, can be extremely harmful to their mental health and self-esteem.

Coping mechanisms
Discuss what they’ve seen or heard, and pinpoint the irritants — why did it bother them? Was it aimed at them specifically?
Determine who or where the hate speech originated and report it using the game’s interface.
If the offense is part of a series, escalate the complaint according to the game’s protocols.
Ascertain that they understand that hate speech is never acceptable, and that this has occurred because of who they are. It’s always more about the perpetrator than it is about the victim.
Consider proposing they take a break from the game, just like you would in a bullying situation.

Trolling and hate speech
Trolling is frequently mistaken for another type of bullying, but it can be a long-term pattern of behavior that is detrimental to the mental health of children and teenagers. In a multi-player game, for example, it may be where a person says something controversial on purpose to elicit a reaction from other players or to distract others in order to win the game. It has the potential to make children’s and young people’s gaming environments more stressful, as well as to lead to increased bullying behavior.

Coping mechanisms
Where is the trolling taking place? How often does this happen? What is the nature of the trolling? Is it in-game stalking or verbal insults?
See if your youngster or adolescent will refrain from using the game’s social functions so that the troll cannot reach them during a match.
Let them know you’re available for them and that they can talk to you again if the trolling gets out of hand.

Where can I get help and advice?
Ditch the Label or specific social media sites can be used to report online bullying. Although all social networking sites have reporting features, they may not be able to delete content quickly enough, thus reporting through a third party with trusted flagger status will speed up the process.
Report Harmful Stuff – Assisting people in reporting harmful content on the internet.
Tackling online hate and trolling is a priority for Internet Matters.
Young Minds (open 9.30 a.m. to 4 p.m.) – 0808 802 5544
Report Harmful Stuff – Assisting people in reporting harmful content on the internet.
0800 1111 (Childline) (open 24 hours)
The Samaritans can be reached at +44 (0)8457 90 90 90. (open 24 hours)

Setting yourself up for success when it comes to safe gaming

Play with them for a while.
Playing the game with your child is the greatest way to understand why they are prepared to risk being harassed or bullied in it. Recognize what aspects of the game people appreciate, such as the strategy, competition, or social aspects. It will also help you evaluate just how at risk they are by understanding how things are communicated within the game and the amount of inappropriate language or contact that may occur in an ordinary session.

Learn how to file a report of abuse.
Have a discussion with your youngster about their favorite games and do some research of your own. Learn how to report abuse in their favorite games and what the reporting procedures are for the game’s creators. You may never need it, but knowing how to do it will offer you peace of mind in knowing that you can go deeper if and when you need to. Because reporting differs between games, platforms, and publishers, it’s helpful to learn more about it each of your child’s favorite games.

Talk to your youngster about the dangers of oversharing.
All children and young people should be aware of the dangers of oversharing on the internet. Have a discussion with the young person and help them understand that it is their option whether or not they want to come out as LGBTQ+ to the individuals with whom they game online. Nobody should be forced to come out if they aren’t ready. Similarly, if someone chooses to come out, they have the right to be treated with dignity.

Make sure the young person understands that being bullied, harassed, trolled, or otherwise discriminated against online because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is unacceptable. Let them know you’ll be there for them if something goes wrong. Support them in identifying the steps they can take if this happens to them (e.g. reporting, blocking), and assure them that they may tell you what happened and that you will be there to assist them.’ This isn’t meant to make kids ashamed of their sexuality; rather, it’s meant to protect them from hurtful abuse or hate speech. When discussing this with them, bear in mind that even if they choose to keep their sexuality or gender identity private, comments of this nature may still be thrown around casually in this environment.

Set aside time for gaming.
Talk to them about their gaming time, just as you would with social media use, and make sure they can balance it with a good sleeping pattern and all of their other commitments. Older gamers are more likely to be online late at night and into the morning, whilst younger gamers are more likely to be online before and after school. Make an effort to create a schedule that will safeguard them from older gamers who are more prone to be aggressive or use bad language in the chat section.

Online networking and sharing

Children and young people who are LGBTQ+ are being supported.

Connecting and sharing online may be an important method for LGBTQ+ children and young people to interact with peers, educate themselves, and find solutions to difficulties that their friends and family may not understand. However, when young people in the LGBTQ+ community communicate online, there are several areas where they are at risk.
What you should know
Life on social media is a vital part of growing up nowadays, and it can be a lifeline for LGBTQ+ children and young people. Connections are extremely beneficial for those who wish to learn more about their sexuality or find friends and connections who are in a similar situation. It can also serve as a reminder that they are not alone in their thoughts and that others are thinking about the same topics they are.
The Advantages
For LGBTQ+ children and young people, there are numerous advantages to forming relationships through online networks, including:

Making contact with the LGBTQ+ community
Developing ties with individuals in the LGBTQ+ community, especially if they have few other LGBTQ+ people in their lives.

Examining the identification of LGBTQ+ people
Educating yourself about the various facets of growing up as an LGBTQ+ person.

Finding people who share your interests
Finding a group of folks who have had comparable experiences.

Different means of sharing experiences
They can express themselves in a variety of ways that they would not be able to do offline.

Relationship management and online dating
Exploring online dating and relationships – LGBTQ+ young people can meet online and share and discuss their experiences. For members in the LGBTQ+ community, the ability to form meaningful connections with those who share similar experiences is a big selling factor for online dating, where they can be themselves without fear of being judged by others.

The Dangers
We all know that there are risks and problems that come with being active in online communities, and LGBTQ+ children and young people are no exception. These can include the following:

Online hate and exposure to bad content
Being exposed to harmful, hateful, or inappropriate content regarding the LGBTQ+ community on the internet, such as anti-LGBTQ+ message, hate speech, or even sponsored adverts for conversion therapy or anti-LGBTQ+ groups.

Pornographic exposure
Another danger is exposure to pornography. This could be sexual content on the internet or information communicated between two people. This could have an impact on your child’s attitude toward sex and sexuality exploration, as well as put them in danger if they feel forced to participate in similar behaviors.

Making contact with potentially harmful individuals
Connecting with potentially harmful people, such as through the use of age-inappropriate online dating applications.

Sexual harassment on the internet
Being a victim of online sexual harassment is when someone engages in unwelcome sexual behavior on the internet. Everyone is in danger, but LGBTQ+ children and young people may be singled out because of their sexual orientation and/or gender.

Face-to-face meetings with online-only buddies
Meeting people they’ve only communicated with online, especially in the context of online dating, puts them at risk of sexual harassment or physical assault offline – according to research from The Brook, significantly more gay young people (9.9%) have met up with an online contact who wasn’t who they said they were than straight young people (4.9 percent ).

Sexual exploitation and grooming
Grooming and sexual exploitation are problems that all children and young people face, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community. Some LGBTQ+ children and teenagers use adult websites on purpose because they believe it is a more convenient method to meet people, explore their sexuality, or feel accepted. If they don’t have access to an LGBTQ+ youth organization or a moderated forum operated by qualified professionals, an adult dating app may be the only online venue they know of exclusively for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Harmful hate speech directed at transgender individuals on the internet
With 1.5 million transphobic tweets produced over a three-and-a-half-year period, the risk of being exposed to dangerous or destructive hate speech online grows tremendously for transgender persons. As a result of seeing hate speech, transphobic cyberbullying is a real possibility (bullying based on prejudice or negative attitudes, views, or beliefs about trans people). Because some people may feel empowered to harass, abuse, or discriminate against trans people because of an online culture of transphobia, young trans persons may be particularly vulnerable to transphobic cyberbullying. This has the ability to affect one’s mental health and self-esteem.

It is critical to be aware of the following:

Because of their sexuality or gender identity, LGBTQ+ children and young people are more likely to be cyberbullied. 3 out of 10 LGBT young people have been bullied by harsh, inaccurate, hidden, or embarrassing comments, messages, videos, or images.
Despite the fact that seeing LGBTQ+ hate speech online is eight times less likely than hearing broad conversations about sexual and gender identity, it is nevertheless rather widespread.
According to Stonewall – The School Report (2017), online homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic abuse has been directed at 2 out of 5 LGBT young people (40 percent).
Many LGBTQ+ children and young people, on the other hand, come out online before coming out offline, and they may form a community of LGBTQ+ friends online before they can form a community of LGBTQ+ friends offline. By cutting them off from a vital resource, they may be less likely to come out to their classmates and friends offline.

The Obstacles
The fundamental problem for all parents is figuring out how to allow their children to gain from social media and internet connections while still shielding them from potential danger. Because of the added problems that you may face, this is especially crucial for children and young people exploring their sexuality. These can include the following:

The value of social media in the maintenance of relationships
Limiting children’s and young people’s access to the internet and social media could have a negative influence on their interactions with school buddies, long-distance friendships, and other largely offline relationships. This is especially essential in light of recent Coronavirus lockdowns, which may prevent young people from visiting their friends on a regular basis.

The importance of online resources and groups in promoting well-being
Limiting internet access may shut kids off from valuable resources that would help them to explore and express themselves.
A young person’s desire to be a member of a community with other LGBTQ+ individuals may be strong, thus they should be assisted in learning how to develop safe online friends and connections.
They may believe that the advantages exceed the hazards, or they may be aware of the risks yet do not want to lose what they have acquired.

What should you think about it?

When approaching your child about their internet use and taking actions to preserve their well-being, there are a few factors to keep in mind:

Knowing the hazards can help you spot any potentially dangerous circumstances they are unintentionally participating in.
Ask children and young people open and honest questions about life online, such as what they think about recent news items about apps or new technology, or ask them to tell you about their favorite app.
Keep an eye on what your child is doing on the internet and with whom they are interacting.
Recognize that the internet is now an integral part of growing up, and you should respect their freedom to use it as well as their right to privacy. Work together to strengthen their resilience and trust so kids can make safer online choices and cope with any online dangers.
Recognize that prohibiting the use of technology and the internet is not an option. It has significantly more good consequences than negative consequences.
Understand the law — While not all harmful online behavior is unlawful, any act of prejudice against LGBTQ+ children and youth should be addressed. If you are concerned about an online incident, you can use your child’s school referral process to contact your local safety body. Police reports are filed in conjunction with a referral to children’s social services. See Stonewall’s guide for additional information on the law.

Steps to do to safeguard them
Growing up has become inextricably linked to the use of social media. Although there are numerous evident benefits to interacting and sharing with others online, particularly for minority groups of children and young people, there are certain steps that may be taken to safeguard them from the risks indicated in this resource.
Opening a dialogue with them about their usage of social media is the greatest approach to begin communicating about what they should be aware of and what you expect from each other in order to keep them safe online.

Actions you can take
Setting the stage for success
You can assist your child stay safe online and developing healthy internet habits that will benefit them in the future by doing a variety of things.

Settings for personal privacy
You might want to have a conversation with your youngster about the various social networking sites’ privacy settings and options. Having an open discussion about the risks and benefits of various settings will help you understand their social media aspirations, as well as ensure that they are aware of who can view what they post.

Set aside time for social networking.
During the school year, especially during the week, it’s critical to ensure that your child is not wasting every minute of their free time on social media rather than performing other enriching activities or finishing their homework.

Work out with them what these hours should be, post a rudimentary schedule on the refrigerator or somewhere visible in the house, and make sure everyone in the family follows it. You have to set an example here, so if they can’t use social media, you can’t either.

Keep in touch with them.
It may be as simple as maintaining a conversation with them about their use of social media. However, avoid interrogating them, as this will simply cause them to hide their social media habits from you. Have conversations with them in which you remind them of the guidelines you’ve established together and allow them to discuss anything they’ve seen or seen on social media that concerns them.

Do your homework.
One of the main reasons why social media can be a lifeline for LGBTQ+ youngsters is that they do not have an offline group, that they are misunderstood by those around them, or that they are unable to express themselves safely. As a result, assist them in locating this information both online and offline. Look for local meet-ups or groups. Encourage children to pursue hobbies as a way to express themselves. Whatever provides your child with a constructive outlet or, better yet, a secure environment to express themselves is a terrific approach to ensure they are comfortable with who they are both online and off.

Discussions to have
Begin the conversation in a lighthearted manner.
Sitting down with them for a formal discussion will be associated with a penalty or important information.

Inquire about their social media usage.
Giving them an opportunity to tell you what they enjoy about it and who they connect with is much better than simply telling them what you think.

Inquire if there is anything on social media that makes them feel uneasy.
They may not be completely honest, but their reaction will help you determine whether they are connecting with or experiencing anything on social media that is influencing them offline.

Discuss the pitfalls of oversharing on social media with them.
Young people frequently come out first on the internet. As a result, they may have been a part of LGBTQ+ online groups before you ever realized it. Regardless of how long they’ve been a part of the community, oversharing in a group of people they’ve never met before can be risky. For instance, providing identifying information that could assist someone in locating them in person.

Allow them to express their emotions.
It’s critical that your child feels heard when discussing their usage of social media, as it’s likely one of the most significant aspects of their lives.

Things to keep in mind
Maintain your composure.
When you discuss this topic with them, there’s a potential they’ll become defensive or upset, especially if they’ve been doing something you’ve decided to limit. Remain cool and speak to them in an age-appropriate manner.

Remind them of it.
You’re not fully disconnecting children from technology or the internet; rather, you’re restricting or monitoring their usage.

Allow them to participate.
Request their assistance with the next stages. If they’re being honest with you about their behavior, encouraging them to help you set the boundaries will help them recognize that it’s for the best and not a punishment.

For LGBTQ+ people, social media is an important part of their lives.
Social media may be a lifeline for children and young people looking for a community, and it is frequently where they come out first. Restricting access to social media could have a significant impact on their capacity to come out offline and openly discuss their sexuality with others.

Taking care of online problems
Here are some actions you can take (adjust as needed to reflect your knowledge of your kid or young person):

What are the most pressing concerns?
Oversharing
What’s the harm in that?

It can be difficult for LGBTQ+ children and young people to grasp what constitutes internet oversharing, especially since so much of their lives take place online. However, disclosing too much personal information about your child can put him or her in danger.

Coping mechanisms
In an open and honest conversation, explain the potential repercussions of oversharing.
Find out what they shared and with whom they shared it if they have previously disclosed information that concerns them.
Contact the site to get the information removed if it has been published on other websites without their knowledge or agreement.

Where can I get help and advice?
If you need something removed from a social media site, go to Ditch the Label, who will submit the content to the appropriate social media sites for removal. You can also obtain help on any issue you’d like to report by visiting the Report Harmful Content online website. Additionally, if your child’s or young person’s information was disclosed by a peer or classmate, reporting their school will assist to guarantee that this does not happen again.

Sexual Abuse on the Internet
What’s the harm in that?

Online sexual abuse can affect any youngster, regardless of their background. Some people, however, are more vulnerable than others.

Online and peer-on-peer abuse (this form of abuse occurs when there is any kind of physical, sexual, emotional, or financial abuse or coercive control exercised between children, and includes cyberbullying, sexual violence, harassment, and sexting) were the most common sexual concerns raised by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

According to Stonewall’s The School Report 2017, 6% of LGBTQ young people have been recorded or photographed without their permission, and 3% claim sexually explicit photographs or texts about them have been disseminated without their permission.

Coping mechanisms
Block and delete the offender right away.
You may need to keep proof of the abuse in some cases, since you may need to show it to the authorities and/or police.
Reassure your child that it’s not their fault – they’re probably just as scared and worried as you are – and that your main concern is that they’re safe and that you want to help them. Children and young people often worry about the stigma of having been abused; don’t treat them differently in any way because of it.
Have a calm and honest dialogue with them about what happened – this will be a tough topic for both of you, so keep in mind that children and young people who have been abused will have a hard time talking about it.
Instead of asking intrusive or pressurizing inquiries, focus on understanding how they are feeling right now and what they might want from you.
Has the abuse ended for good? (Abuse often continues after a kid or young person reports it to someone).

Sexting
What’s the harm in that?

It’s difficult to estimate how many youngsters exchange sexual photos, but sharing is not an isolated behavior among children and young people, particularly those in the LGBTQ+ community. According to Stonewall’s research, 59 percent of the LGBT young people surveyed have created a sexual photo or film of themselves.

In comparison, only 40% of heterosexual young people responded (Stonewall, 2014). However, they frequently do not realize that sending or possessing sexually explicit photos of minors is against the law. According to research, more than a third of young people (34%) have sent asexual or nude’ image of themselves to someone, and more than half (52%) have received one (Digital Romance, CEOP & Brook, 2017).

Coping mechanisms
Determine the type of content that was exchanged, the degree to which the photograph was explicit, and who was involved. Was it transmitted to or received from someone much older than them?
Understand why they acted the way they did by having an open and honest conversation with them.
Make them aware of the dangers, such as the fact that if they share photographs of themselves to others, they have no control over where those images wind up in the future, even if they use apps like Snapchat, where images vanish after a few seconds.
Block and remove the culprit, and report it if the perpetrator was an older person or you believe your child or young person was coerced into this behavior.

Experiencing hate speech
They may be unaware of how much hate speech they are exposed to on social media. Despite the fact that anti-bullying organization Ditch the Label discovered that homophobic hate speech was eight times less probable on social media than general debates about homophobia, they may still be exposed to it, and you should be prepared to talk to them about it.

Coping mechanisms
Discuss what your child or young person saw or read and how it made them feel with an open mind.
Determine the source of the discomfort – did they notice a slur? What did they hear that made them feel this way? Was it aimed at them, or did they just happen to notice it?
You can report dangerous content to social media networks and request that it be removed.

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