Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 June 2019

Swedish royals release refreshingly candid internet-safety guide for parents

Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia's manual addresses issues such as unwanted images and propositions, and decodes online-speak

Princess Sofia and Prince Carl Phillip of Sweden with their children, Alexander and Prince Gabriel. Photo by Samir Hussein / WireImage
Princess Sofia and Prince Carl Phillip of Sweden with their children, Alexander and Prince Gabriel. Photo by Samir Hussein / WireImage

“He kept sending me dirty pictures despite my repeated attempts to make him stop,” recounts one 15-year-old girl in Handbok for Natforaldrar or Guide for Parents.

Hers is one of dozens of voices represented in the book on internet safety that has just been released by Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia’s charitable foundation. The handbook by the Swedish royal couple, who are parents to toddlers Alexander and Gabriel, is being hailed as ground-breaking for a number of reasons.

For one, its observations and advice come off the back of interviews with children between the ages of 10 and 18, or as they put it, “the true online experts, who share their wisdom and anecdotes, what they think is fun and good, and what they dislike".

By educating parents about everything from buzzwords to the very real dangers of cyberbullying, as well as sexual harassment online, unwanted propositions and inappropriate images, the book seeks to narrow the digital gap between adults and children.

Guide for Parents is divided into three parts: the first describes the online lives of kids and teens; the next talks about difficult things that children may face; and the third is a section with tips for parents whose kids are constantly online.

Parents can also consult a glossary if they want to know what millennial terms mean and the various connotations they take. These include fomo, memes, yas, bae, vlogs, hashtag and Snapchat. This can not only help parents to feel a bit more clued in when their kids are conversing, but will also raise any red flags, say when you hear the word “grooming” in context, for example. The term is used when an adult contacts a minor online for untoward purposes.

Prince Carl and Princess Sofia worked alongside the Children’s Rights in Society NGO to produce the manual, which is free to access online.

Prince Carl Phillip and Princess Sofia of Sweden published Handbok for Natforaldrar or Guide for Parents, an internet-safety manual for parents. Courtesy Prinsparet via Instagram
Prince Carl and Princess Sofia distributed the book to parents across Sweden. Courtesy Prinsparet via Instagram

“Dare to ask questions,” they advise parents, because “most kids actually want to talk to a grown-up about their online experiences. But many think you wouldn’t understand … [they] worry about things they feel parents don’t have a clue about. They might also fear getting blamed for things that have happened.

“Parents, on the other hand, often feel they are lacking in knowledge about new apps or trends. This gap between kids and grown-ups is the biggest hurdle to conversation. And that’s what we want this book to change.”

Updated: February 18, 2019 04:33 PM