Protecting children and young people against physical, emotional, psychological and intellectual harm is an Islamic obligation upon parents and guardians. All those types of harm -especially the last three- are existent online and some may be just a finger-tip away from your child.

Intellectual harm includes indoctrination and brainwashing of a young person’s mind into believing extreme, anti-Iman and immodest ideologies to be correct. Emotional and psychological harm can result from cyber-bullying and sexting. Negligence of children online can put them in real-life physical danger to predators and paedophiles.

The prophet peace be upon him said:

كُلُّكُمْ رَاعٍ وَكُلُّكُمْ مَسْؤول عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ

[All of you are guardians and are responsible for your wards] [Bukari & Muslim]

And he peace be upon him also said:

كفَى بالمرءِ إثماً أن يُضيِّعَ من يقوت

[It is sufficient sin for a person that he neglects his own dependants] [Sunan Abi Dawoud: Book 9, Hadith 137, Hasan (Al-Bani)]

As a protective measure parents and guardians must acquaint themselves with all the social media sites, apps and games that their children use (or ask to use). Secondly, they need to decide which ones are safe for their children to use and if so, activate some parental control settings that will ensure that privacy levels are appropriate. They should also familiarise themselves and their children with blocking and reporting settings in case they are needed.

Below is a review of some of the most popular social media sites, their potential safety risks and further links on how to access privacy and reporting settings.

youtube

Youtube

A website for watching, uploading and sharing videos. Registered users should be 13+.

Safety risks for children and young people include: exposure to inappropriate content (including sexual content, porn and violence) through videos, comments and advertisements. If the young person has a channel or a playlist, there is a risk of it being viewed and commented on by an unwanted user.

Below are some safety tips on youtube:

 

facebook

Facebook

A website and an app that allows users to create personal accounts through which they can upload posts, pictures, videos and connect with friends, family and users from across the world by adding them as friends, messaging and chatting and video calling. It also allows users to create topic based pages or event pages for interested people to come together.

Registered users should be 13+.

Safety risks for children and young people include: ease of talking to strangers from across the world and possibility of inappropriate comments and posts.

Below are some safety tips on Facebook:

 

whatsapp

Whatsapp

An app that allows users with internet access to message, call, video call, and instantly share pictures and videos with individuals or groups.

Registered users should be 16+.

Safety risks for children and young people include: talking to strangers, receiving bullying or harassment messages, profile picture, status and check-in time are viewable by anybody who has your number.

Below are some safety tips on Whatsapp:

 

snapchat

SnapChat

An app that allows users to communicate using photos and short videos. Photos and videos are deleted from the app within 3-10 seconds.

Registered users should be 13+.

Safety risks for children and young people include: being misled into sharing silly photos and videos under the assumption that the pictures or videos will be deleted within 3-10 seconds. It is possible to save photos using screenshots and using hijacking apps available for less than a £1 on the internet. Those photos can easily be shared on facebook and other apps and sites.

This video illustrates the risks of this app. Below are some safety tips on Snap Chat:

 

instagram

Instagram

An app that allows users to communicate using photos and short videos. Content can be posted along with hashtags and users can share their content and follow friends, family, organisations or celebrities.

Registered users should be 13+.

Safety risks for children and young people include: exposure to inappropriate content, including sexual content, violence, hatred and bullying.

This video illustrates the risks of this app. Below are some safety tips on Instagram:

 

musical.ly

Musical.ly

A highly popular free app that contains millions of music songs. Members can record and synchronise their lips, movements, actions and dance with any song from the app or one they upload from their phone. The songs can be slowed or fast-forwarded and edited in many other ways. Recordings can be shared with friends and the entire app audience. Recordings that receive the highest rating appear in the top-rated panel. Members can watch other members’ uploads. Videos can be saved and shared on other social media sites and

Registered users should be 13+.

Safety risks for children and young people include: exposure to inappropriate content, including sexual content, porn and violence, bullying and offensive comments.

This video illustrates the risks of this app. Below are some safety tips on Instagram:

Read some parent reviews of this app.

 

minecraft

Minecraft

A game app that allows players to create a virtual world and connect with other players from across the world by exploring their virtual world creations, combat and play with them.

Registered users should be 13+.

Safety risks for children and young people include: Limited privacy control, bullying and inappropriate comments.

This video illustrates the risks of this app. Below are some safety tips on Instagram:

Find Out More

The following websites provide a detailed review of social media sites, apps and games, as well as potential safety risks they pose to children and young people:

  1. Net-aware
  2. Protect Young Eyes
  3. Internet Matters

Activate Parental Controls

Additionally, this excellent link will take you through an easy, step-by-step, interactive guide on activating simple parental controls on Broadband and mobile networks, computer and mobile devices, entertainment and search engines to protect children and young people in your house.