How we can help keep our children safe
This year’s Safer Internet Day on February 5 will be celebrated across the globe. Fiona Evans looks at what it means for children and young people in the UK
Keeping children safe online is one of the great challenges of modern parenting.
With its potential snares and dark corners, the internet is a far cry from the comparatively modest media many of the parents, carers and grandparents of today’s young people grew up with.
But the web is well and truly spun and if it is to be explored and mined for its riches then must be done so with caution.
That’s where Safer Internet Day 2019 comes in to lend a helping hand.
Coordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre, the day involves hundreds of organisations helping to promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people.
“In an increasingly digitised world, being online is an integral part of life for young people today,” said Will Gardner, director of the UK Safer Internet Centre; a partnership of Childnet International, Internet Watch Foundation and South West Grid for Learning, which aims to make the internet a better place for children and young people.
“However, the internet is always changing, and being able to keep up to date with your children’s use of technology can be a real challenge. Whilst we know that young people are more likely to have a positive than a negative experience online, they can also face myriad pressures and risks as they navigate large amounts of content, information, and interactions.
“It can be difficult to know where to start, but you don’t need to be an expert on the internet to help keep your child stay safe.”
Central to this year’s campaign is the theme, “together for a better internet”, which will see families encouraged to have open and honest conversations about how they share content and interact with others online.
“Having regular open and honest conversations can help families discuss and explore together how they can all use the internet responsibly and safely,” said Will.
“As our research from last Safer Internet Day found, children want support from the adults in their lives, with 77 per cent saying they wanted their parents to be there for them if something worried them online. As a parent or carer, you can play a key role in helping your child to stay safe in a digital world.
“Together, we want to make sure that every young person feels equipped and empowered to make positive decisions when interacting online.”
People will be asked to think about what they can do to make the internet a better place for themselves and others.
Organisers hope Safer Internet Day 2019 will empower young people to take control of their online lives and to feel that they can harness and use the positive power of the internet for good.
This year, the campaign in the UK will focus on how consent works in an online context and will ask young people to explore how they ask, give, and receive consent online. “This could be in their friendships or relationships, how they take and share images and videos, or how they manage their privacy and data,” said Will.
“We’re calling on young people, their families and everyone to explore how the internet works, who owns the information that is shared on it, and how they can actively take ownership of digital spaces.
“Crucially, to help foster these conversations between parents and their children, we’re launching online safety tips, advice and resources to help children and young people stay safe online.”
More than 900 organisations, including schools, colleges, businesses, charities and police have pledged their support for Safer Internet Day 2019.
To find out more about Safer Internet Day 2019 visit Safer Internet
TIPS FOR PARENTS
Will Gardner, director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, has these tips for parents and carers:
Choose to make use of the tools available to you
Make sure you know how to activate and use parental controls can help protect your child from seeing inappropriate content online.
Choose to take a balanced approach
Try to look at both the positive and negative aspects of being online and empower your child with safe choices they can make instead of overwhelming them with restrictions.
Choose to have a conversation
Talk regularly with your child about how they use technology, and find out what their digital life is like, including what their favourite sites and services are and also how being online makes them feel.
Find out which organisations across the country are Safer Internet Day 2019 supporters.