The Countess of Wessex has told how her children are not yet gripped by social media, but she is ready to help them navigate the sometimes “unkind” virtual world.
Sophie, in an interview with Good Housekeeping magazine, spoke about the importance of being open with teenagers after carrying out a shift as a helpline volunteer at Childline earlier in the summer.
The countess is the mother of the Queen’s youngest grandchildren, 16-year-old Lady Louise Windsor, who has just received her GCSE results, and 12-year-old Viscount Severn.
Sophie, who is patron of Childline and the NSPCC, said: “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.”
The countess appears on the cover of the magazine’s October edition, wearing a fitted cream dress.
She is not the first member of the royal family to raise the issue of social media.
The Duke of Cambridge highlighted the problem of online abuse after spearheading the Royal Foundation’s Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying.
Meanwhile, the Duke of Sussex recently accused social media giants of having “contributed to, stoked and created the conditions for a crisis of hate, a crisis of health and a crisis of truth”.
In June, Sophie helped volunteer counsellors with answering messages from vulnerable young people via Childline’s personal inbox, which invites children to get in touch online.
“When I did my shift at Childline there was a wonderful, experienced volunteer guiding me and I felt fully supported,” she revealed.
“She helped me to construct responses to the emails, which I hope the young people receiving them found helpful.
“It was a fantastic insight into some of the remarkable work they do each and every day.”
The countess described how she had been watching television when presenter Esther Rantzen first launched Childline in 1986 and how she thought it was a brilliant idea.
“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,” Sophie 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.”
The countess also spoke about taking over patronage of the NSPCC from the Queen in 2016.
“This was the first patronage that Her Majesty asked me to take on and I accepted the honour immediately,” she said.
She told how one young woman she met through the charity made a profound impression on her after she was able to turn her life around despite a childhood in care homes and after surviving sexual abuse.
Sophie said: “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.”
The full interview with the countess appears in the October issue of Good Housekeeping, which goes on sale on Wednesday August 26 in supermarkets and online at magsdirect.co.uk