We asked 15-year-old Mia some questions about how she uses the internet in her day to day routine. She also shares her thoughts about the apps she uses and how her school is tackling the subject of online safety.
1. How do you use the internet in your daily routine?
First thing in the in the morning I go straight for my phone to check Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter; it’s usually the last thing I do in the evening too. I think that I probably spend most of my time online using Snapchat, and I’d say that most people my age would likely say the same about themselves. As well as being able to message friends, I can check their posts, video chat and read articles all on one app, so the fact that it’s so versatile is one of the reasons why I and so many others have taken a shine to it.
When I’m not on Snapchat however, you’d often find me glued to a vlog or commentary video on YouTube. One of the reasons why this site is so universally appealing is the range of different content available, there really is something for everyone. Personally, I’m a fan of vlogging channels such as EmmaChamberlain and DanielHowell, but other times I find that the short quirky videos from channels like BillWurtz and JackStauber are just as funny.
However, as well as for relaxation I also use the internet as a resource for school work as well.
Helpful revision videos are easy to come by using google, and often very useful in deepening my understanding of a topic. I also take practice tests on SAMlearning and MyMaths leading up to any tests or if I just want to go over something I didn’t understand in class. Websites like these are often better for some students than working from textbooks and revision guides; they’re very engaging which keeps students’ attention and can make revision into less of a chore.
2. What is your favourite social media/gaming/web platform and why? What risks do you think are associated with this?
My favourite platform online would definitely have to be Instagram. I love being able to create a spread of colourful posts across my profile. Pictures of my friends, parties, concerts, and yes shamefully some selfies, are what you can usually find decorating my page.
While I do like to keep my profile looking pretty, I try to avoid becoming too obsessed with it, which I think is something all too easy for people my age to fall into -girls in particular. Being bombarded with pictures of models on beaches with perfectly tousled hair and sun-kissed skin can definitely bring out insecurities, something myself and I’m sure the majority of people deal with. This can lead to young people trying to create a perfect, fake image of themselves online, every picture taken at the best angle and each lock of hair in just the right place. It can become an obsession to replicate these impossible beauty standards, which is why I think that this app should be used in moderation and with this in mind.
3. What online safety education have you received at school? What has been good and what hasn’t been helpful? How do you think your school could improve this?
I think that my school has been very proactive when it comes to Internet safety, with both primary and secondary assembly talks on the subject. Sometimes we’d have people come in to talk about the dangers and risks of social media, or we’d watch videos warning us about ‘stranger danger’ and not giving out personal information on the internet. From a young age, it was easy for me to understand these concepts and it’s something that I do make sure to remember when using social media. These talks usually repeat the same topics from primary through secondary, which can often come across as patronising and put me off from paying attention.
I also think that many schools, as well as mine, fail to address the other issues associated with the internet and too often focus on the risks of meeting strangers online and cyberbullying. For example body image, arguments over social media, sending inappropriate messages/photos etc are sometimes brushed over or dismissed completely which I think is a shame. With the internet changing at such a fast pace, schools should focus on adapting to new problems facing teenagers using the internet today rather than repeating the same warnings we’ve been hearing for years.