Earlier this year, Nicola was invited to a workshop at her children’s school, Garston Church of England Primary School. Afterwards, she thought that anyone who has contact with children would benefit. So she approached the NSPCC to see if they were willing to run a similar event in her church.
Nicola said; “I was faced with a dilemma regarding the best way to talk to my children about this whole new online world, worried about how little I knew, wanting to protect our children as much as possible but at the same time giving them the independence and responsibility that they need in order to learn, grow and engage in and with the world around them. This workshop was one of the most useful I have been on for a long time.”
But Nicola knew that she wasn’t alone in her fears about how to ensure her children’s safety online. She told us,
“As vicar and mum, I am aware that online safety is a real concern for anyone who has responsibility for children, be it their own children, children in their family or children they care for. So often, as is the case for us, children know far more about the online world than adults. After attending the workshop, I thought this would be perfect for my parishioners and it would be a great way of us reaching beyond our church walls and into the community.”
The NSPCC has worked in partnership with O2 to develop the sessions which help parents and carers to keep their children safe online.
The free workshops are usually held in schools and businesses across the country to encourage parents to have regular conversations with their children about the digital world.
“Children’s online safety is a real, live, current issue of concern. I think that we are the first generation who has had to grapple with this. I can’t ask my parents how they managed online safety when I was a teenager as the online world didn’t exist then! So there are no reference points to guide us or know what to expect.
“We are seeking to make a bigger difference and bring about more justice in the world. I hope that by having this workshop more parents and carers who come along will have a deeper understanding of why apps have a minimum age, why social media is both a good thing but also to be used cautiously, the importance of parental controls, not giving out personal information to people met online and feel better equipped with the online world.
“As with everything, there are real benefits to social media but dangers too and as a parent having the confidence to talk about both is empowering. Thanks to my children’s primary school I now have a clearer, more informed understanding of the above points and would encourage other parents and carers to come along and find out more for themselves.
“Living out our calling as Christians and loving Jesus also means loving children because Jesus said ‘that it is to such as them that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs’. Today we show our love and care for children and demonstrate the Kingdom of God to them in many ways and protecting them from online harm is one, twenty-first century way, of doing that.”
Sue Mitchell, Children and Families Missioner told us,
“This workshop will be really important to show how, we as a diocese, can reach out into the community. By understanding parents’ real concerns, expressing an interest in helping them cope, we are really showing them that churches are more than a building. We are really grateful to Nicola for taking the initiative. We believe we are the first diocese to collaborate with the NSPCC and O2 and put on a workshop like this.”
If you are interested in hosting a similar event, please get in touch with Sue Mitchell:
What: NSPCC Online Safety Workshop
When : 3 October 7 pm
Where: All Hallows Allerton, 1 Greenhill Road, Mossley Hill, Liverpool, Merseyside L18 6JJ