Social media – it’s never been easier to keep in touch with your friends and family, no matter where in the world they are. Sounds perfect for connecting with your sponsored child, right? Actually, it might not be as perfect as you first think. Here are five reasons to rethink a friend request.
Social media – it’s never been easier to keep in touch with your friends and family, no matter where in the world they are. Sounds perfect for connecting with your sponsored child half a world away, right?
Actually, it might not be as perfect as you first think and that’s why World Vision strongly advises not to connect with your sponsored child outside of World Vision channels, like letters, sponsor portals and the My World Vision app.
Before you send a friend request or respond to one from your sponsored child or their family, here are five reasons to rethink your click.
1) Your personal details aren’t protected
When you send a letter to your sponsored child, World Vision takes steps to protect both your privacy and theirs, including not sharing personal details like your email address or exact location or something more sensitive. But if you connect on social media instead, it’s not only your sponsored child who will be able to contact you and see the photos of your neighbourhood, your last holiday, your new renovation or everything else you post, but anyone in their social networks too, depending on their privacy settings. Keeping your personal details and your sponsored child’s private by communicating through World Vision channels provides protection for you both.
2) It could put you or your sponsored child in a difficult position
For someone living in the developing world, your life can look quite luxurious on social media. Your sponsored child, or their family and friends could see your relationship as an opportunity to receive extra financial benefits. When you sponsor a child, your contributions are pooled with other sponsors and used to tackle the biggest issues facing your sponsored child’s community, rather than being given to your sponsored child as a cash gift. This process has many checks and balances in place to ensure wise, careful and effective long-term changes for children in that community. But if you contact the family directly, they may see it as an opportunity to ask you for gifts, money or other favours – and that could cause difficulties for both of you.
3) There are no safeguards to protect your sponsored child on social media
World Vision has lots of child safeguarding policies in place to make sure that all sponsored children are protected from both intentional and unintentional exchanges with sponsors that could be harmful. That’s because the safety and protection of children in our programmes is our highest priority. These protections do not exist on social media conversations, leaving sponsored children vulnerable to inappropriate communication that could put their safety and wellbeing at risk, even if they don’t realise it.
4) Translation is tricky!
Yes, there’s always Google Translate, but artificial intelligence doesn’t always get it right, nor can it understand the context of your sponsored child like the World Vision staff and volunteers, who translate their letters to you. That can lead to misinterpretation, confusion or misunderstandings for either party. Some things lost in translation can be funny, but others can also be harmful, where a well-intentioned message are translated to aggressive, rude, dangerous or inappropriate language.
5) There can be misunderstandings because of differences in culture
There might not be anything unusual about posting an opinion about politics or a photo of you in a swimsuit at the pool – but it might be a very different story in your sponsored child’s country. There may be common cultural practices in your country that your sponsor child or their family think are inappropriate – and vice versa. There are lots of different ways your culture will be different to your sponsored child’s – learning about those differences can be one of the best parts of sponsorship – but it can be easy for misunderstandings to happen when you (or they) are posting with your other friends in mind.
Sharing messages, photos and a real connection is one of the most fun and rewarding things about sponsoring a child – and it can have a huge impact on your sponsored child’s life, too. But the best way to do it is through approved World Vision channels – by mail, through a sponsor portal, or through the My World Vision app so everyone can be safe and protected. World Vision strongly advises against connecting with your sponsor child directly outside of these channels. The WV sponsor portal and app keep you up-to-date with everything that’s happening in your sponsored child’s world, with videos, photos and updates from them and their community available on your mobile in real time. Check it out!
If your sponsored child or their family contact you through social media, please don’t respond. Instead, contact us and we can follow up with the sponsored child and community. Thanks for helping keep your sponsored child safe.