Sophie Wessex joins Prince Harry’s latest battle – ‘Virtual world can be unkind’

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Sophie spoke of social media platforms and how important it is for parents to keep a dialogue going with their children. In a rare interview with Good Housekeeping, the Countess was asked how she is helping her children – Lady Louise, 16, and 12-year-old James, Viscount Severn – navigate websites such as Twitter and Facebook. While conceding this isn’t a problem affecting the Wessex household at the moment, Sophie argued it is vital for children to be able to feel supported by their parents so that they can speak to them when in need.

Sophie told the magazine: “At the moment, my children aren’t into social media, however, it is here to stay, so it’s important for them to understand it and for us to equip them with the tools to navigate it successfully.

“Again, I think openness is one way families can support their teenagers.

“If children feel they can discuss issues and worries with their parents, without fear of them, or their friends, being judged, this may give opportunity to help them with what can be a complex and very pressured area.

“It’s so important that young people have adults in their lives who support and affirm them. 

“Particularly when the virtual world can be, at times, unkind.

“Young people need to know they can trust someone with a problem, be that a person directly involved in their life or, of course, Childline is always there for them.”

In her interview with Good Housekeeping, Sophie also spoke about young people in need and how she ended up joining the Childline charity.

She said: “When Esther Rantzen launched Childline in 1986, I was watching the television. 

“It struck me immediately as a brilliant response to a problem that I had no idea was so big.

“I was shocked by the number of children being abused in this country, coupled with the realisation that they had nowhere to turn for help. I was so impressed with what Childline was attempting to do.

“But I could not have imagined that, 19 years later, Esther would ask me to become patron.”

Sophie, who is the first-ever royal patron of 24/7 counselling service Childline, echoed Prince Harry in her warning on social media. 

The Duke of Sussex recently spoke in scathing terms about social media platforms, accused of stoking and creating “the conditions for a crisis of hate, a crisis of health, and a crisis of truth.”

In a comment piece he wrote for website Fast Company, Prince Harry said: “Researchers I’ve spoken with are studying how social media affects people — particularly young people — and I believe the book of data that we will look back on one day will be incredibly troubling.

“Around the world, for many reasons, we are at a turning point — one that has the potential to be transformative.  

“In all areas of life, a rebuilding of compassionate, trustworthy communities needs to be at the heart of where we go.

“And this approach must extend to the digital community, which billions of us participate in every day.

“But it shouldn’t be punitive. When we do the right thing, when we create safe spaces both online and off—everyone wins. Even the platforms themselves.”

Prince Harry even urged investors to use the money they want to spend in advertisements as leverage to change social media platforms. 

He continued: “For companies that purchase online ads, it is one thing to unequivocally disavow hate and racism, white nationalism and anti-Semitism, dangerous misinformation, and a well-established online culture that promotes violence and bigotry.

“It is another thing for them to use their leverage, including through their advertising dollars, to demand change from the very places that give a safe haven and vehicle of propagation to hate and division.”

Read the full interview with HRH The Countess of Wessex in the October issue of Good Housekeeping on sale August 26.

It is available in supermarkets and online at MagsDirect.   

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