Sophie Wessex has revealed her children are ‘not into social media’ but she and husband Prince Edward intend to teach them how to use it ‘successfully’ as they get older.
The mother-of-two to Lady Louise Windsor, 16, and James Viscount Severn, 12, said the virtual world can be ‘unkind’ at times and she hopes her ‘open’ relationship with her children will help them navigate it better.
Speaking to Good Housekeeping, the Countess of Wessex, who is patron of the NSPCC and Childline, added that it’s ‘so important’ for young people to have adults in their lives who support and affirm them.
‘Social media 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,’ she explained.
‘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.
‘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.’
She told the publication about the young people she has met through her charity work which have inspired her.
Sophie described one young woman who made a ‘profound impression’ on her, who had lived in multiple care homes, sometimes for a few months, sometimes for longer.
‘In a number of them, she was sexually abused,’ Sophie recalled. ‘Her life was completely derailed. But one person gained her trust and slowly she started to turn things around, attending college and gaining qualifications.
‘By the time I met her, she had a job as a support worker for other young people in care, trying to prevent them from being moved around the system, to give them the stability she never had. She was an inspiration.
‘What my work with the NSPCC and other charities has taught me is that young people are extremely resilient and resourceful, but they need an opportunity and a helping hand in order to achieve extraordinary things and overcome hurdles.’
Sophie, 55, visited the Childline headquarters in June where she completed her first shift as a helpline volunteer. While she was there she thanked the staff for their work during lockdown – after the pandemic saw a huge increase in demand for Childline’s services.
The royal told how she first learned about the charity when she watched the launch with Esther Rantzen on television in 1986.
‘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,’ she said.
‘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.’
Following in The Queen’s footsteps, Sophie Wessex took over the patronage of the NSPCC from her Majesty in 2016.
Speaking about her first patronage, she said: ‘I accepted the honour immediately.
‘The NSPCC is one of the UK’s most well-known and respected children’s charities and its name has been familiar to me for as long as I can remember.
‘I am proud that I can support the work being done to prevent child abuse and neglect, and support those who do not have adults that protect them.’
For her first volunteering shift, the Countess was assisted by a ‘wonderful and experienced’ volunteer who guided her through it and supported her.
‘She helped me to construct responses to the emails, which I hope the young people receiving them found helpful,’ said the royal.
‘It was a fantastic insight into some of the remarkable work they do each and every day.’