Making a difference to the digital lives of young people :)


How I handled it

How have foster carers dealt with a variety of issues involving online safety, communication difficulties, and dealing with previous trauma.

Real issues experienced by real Foster Carers, created to give you a different perspective and insight into the challenges you may be facing or could face in the future.

  • What is the Issue? Keeping an eye on the child’s internet use
    “I review his browsing history and monitor game usage. I do some spot checks of devices and discreet listening.”
  • Issue: Monitoring the child’s internet use
    “I check their social media and ask questions, keep communication open.”
  • Issue: Communicating with the child
    “I speak to them consistently and raise awareness as well as make sure I’m aware of all online platforms they may be using.”
  • Issue: What approach to take
    “I talk to the child, report risky sites etc. and if need be, remove the electronics until I can get more help with the situation from other professionals
  • Issue Filters and controls
    “I have their passwords and have set parental filters, we only allow age appropriate content”
  • Issue: Communication
    “Being open from the outset on what is acceptable, building trust, talking about it regularly and setting clear boundaries and expectations”
  • Issue: Serious worries
    “I’d speak to my link worker for advice or ask my adult children about it.”
  • Issue: Introducing a young child to technology
    “We’ve actually been able to drip feed him the technology because he came to us as a small boy. He is doing well and still loves his books.”
  • Issue: neglect and abuse
    “Unfortunately, when children that come into care have had long term neglect and have had to fend for themselves and have never been… their actions have never been questioned. It's very difficult for the carer to explain and try and help them understand that the way that they use their phones and the information that they're giving and the conversations that they're having and the pictures they are taking is not appropriate. I think looked after children think they're the only ones going through it. That is why I put this child I have now into a group where they can interact with other children with a similar experience.”
  • Issue: ‘You’re invading my privacy by monitoring my phone!’
    “We tried changing the way we approached it to show it was because we cared if she was OK or not. She said in the end that this was the first time anyone had cared if she was safe. So, in the end she was OK with it.”
  • Issue: Not telling anyone about abuse
    “A lot of our looked after children would go through this on their own and they wouldn't tell anybody. That was what happened to us with the girls that we were looking after. They didn't tell anybody because it was just the norm. It was what was going on. And it's about breaking that. It's about breaking that misconception that this is acceptable, and this is OK. We tried to model a healthy relationship and talk about it.
  • Issue: ‘You wouldn’t understand
    “I basically sat her down, because she was old enough at the time to listen to me. I came from an abusive childhood. That's why I went into fostering myself. So I explained to her about the control my father had over all of us and my mother -about the domestic violence, about the poverty. And I explained to her that for my mother, that wasn't a positive, loving relationship. However, it didn't make my father a bad person. My father had been parented similar. I said just some people are not good parents. It doesn't make them bad people. Parenting doesn't come with a manual. She visits me now with her own child.”
  • Issue: Self-blame after abuse
    “I told her it wasn't her fault. She was a child. It was the adult that was doing whatever was done. It was the adult's fault. It wasn't her fault and that she had her childhood taken away from her at an early age. And that is why it made her do the wrong decisions when it comes to boys, because she thinks she has to. She thought she had to act a certain way to get a boyfriend because she thought that's what boys wanted.”
  • Issue: We were worried that something was causing a 14 year old girl’s behaviour to change so much. She was nervous, edgy and angry, and would not say why. We tried to talk to her about this but got nowhere.
    “We looked through her search history, she always dropped sites down on the tool bar of her laptop if we came into the room. We found she was looking at pages where people talked about self-harm and how to hide it. We got her some help as soon as we could and she agreed to accept it.”

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A consortium to support fostering in a digital age