Posted: 07 February 2017

Internet Safety Day: Make the internet safer for young people

Safer Internet Day is when hundreds of organisations join together to promote the responsible and positive use of digital technology for to keep children and young people safe online.

We are clear that the online world presents risks as well as opportunities for young people, and that it is vital that children and young people are equipped to view online content critically. The internet is increasingly a part of young people’s daily lives and health, education and social care services need to consider and develop innovative ways to engage and support children and young people through internet search engines. Social media companies also have a role to play as children and young people regularly interact and engage on these platforms. 

Our Seriously Awkward report found that parents of 16 and 17 year olds underestimate some of the pressures young people facing young people online; for example, to take and send explicit photos of themselves. Just 13% of parents thought pressure to do this came from online contacts, but of 16–17 year olds who felt under pressure to do this, nearly four in 10 (38%) said they felt this pressure from contacts they met online.

Young people should be empowered to make use of the internet in a positive way. This starts with education about how to avoid risky interactions online and where to seek help.

Our research indicates that parents underestimate pressures their 16 and 17 year olds face online.

We believe that schools can play a vital role in this by including online safety as part of personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) alongside education about consent, exploitation grooming and healthy relationships in general. To ensure a consistent approach is taken, we have been calling for PSHE to become a statutory part of the curriculum in all schools.

In addition, it is also important that parents be are also supported in making the internet safer for children. They should have the ability to set appropriate filters and safety features to help protect their children.

Keeping children safe online is everybody’s business and internet service providers, the police and the Government all need to take action to keep children safe online.

We are a members of the Children’s Charities Coalition on Internet Safety and together where we have been campaigning to raising awareness about children’s safety online and priority areas for improvements.

Recommendations:

  • Parents and professionals should be encouraged and supported to apply suitable filters and safety measures to prevent exposure to harmful or explicit content on electronic devices.
  • Staff in schools and professionals working with children and young people should be equipped with the right level of training and tools to work with children and young people online when appropriate.
  • Social media platforms used by children and young people should have information for young people on where to seek support if they are concerned about their emotional or mental health.

Follow us on Twitter to hear more about Internet Safety Day.

By Kadra Abdinasir - Policy team
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