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Government reveals new measures to keep children safe online

Thursday, October 12th 2017 by Oprah Flash

The government has released new proposals to make Britain the ‘safest place to be online’.

But broadband providers say they are already ahead of the game and it is social media sites who now need to step up.

The government's plans come in the form of an Internet Safety Green Paper.

As part of the Green Paper the government is proposing an industry-wide levy for social media platforms and internet providers to raise awareness and put in measures to prevent online dangers such as cyber bullying and under-age access to porn.

This year, almost one fifth of 12-15 year olds came across online material they ‘found worrying or nasty in some way’ and 64% of 13-17 year olds have seen images or videos offensive to a particular group.

Nearly half of adult users also say they have seen something that has upset or offended them on social media.

Culture secretary Karen Bradley said: “The internet has been an amazing force for good, but it has caused undeniable suffering and can be an especially harmful place for children and vulnerable people.

“Our ideas are ambitious - and rightly so. Collaboratively, government, industry, parents and communities can keep citizens safe online, but only by working together.”

As well as tackling the issue online, the government is planning to add new compulsory subjects to the curriculum aimed at teaching children how to conduct themselves online and how to stay away from potential dangers.

Three years ago the UK's four biggest broadband providers teamed up to create Internet Matters, a not-for-profit organisation with the core value of keeping Brits safe online.

Cyber-bullying

Sky, TalkTalk, BT and Virgin Media are all involved have developed parental controls and filtering to protect customers.

They say the explosion in social media has been linked to a rise in online activity damaging to children and “are calling for more to be done by social media platforms and global tech giants”.

Carolyn Bunting, general manager of Internet Matters, said: “There is always more that government and industry can do to help keep our children safe online but above all we hope the government's new strategy will empower parents to learn more about the issues around cyber-bullying and play an active role in their children’s digital lives.

“If more information for parents can serve as a trigger for a conversation with their child, it is a welcome step forward.”

A Vodafone spokesperson added: “Vodafone welcomes the focus the government is bringing to internet safety. We support ministers’ ambition to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online. We are already providing programmes that support this ambition.

“We provide educational materials to parents and young people through our Digital Parenting Magazine and the BeStrong Online digital resilience programme, working in partnership with Parentzone and the Diana Award.”

A spokesperson for Facebook told Cable.co.uk: “Our priority is to make Facebook a safe place for people of all ages which is why we have spent a long time working with safety experts like the UK Safer Internet Centre, developing powerful tools to help people have a positive experience on Facebook.

“We welcome close collaboration between industry, experts and government to address this important issue.”

Internet Matters' six steps parents can take to make sure their child is safe from cyberbullying:

● Talk About It: If your child is using social media or communicating online, don't wait until they experience cyberbullying to talk to them.

● Beware What They Share: Discuss with your child what they should be sharing online and how it could invite bullies.

● Learn about it. Find out about the apps, social networks and online games they are using and what they are able to share through them.

● Take Control: Set safety filters on their devices and ensure privacy and settings are at the highest level on social media.

● Take It Seriously: Check in with your child regularly and look out for signs of cyberbullying. Remember that children can be targeted by cyberbullies at anytime and online bullies can be anonymous.

● Block and Report: Teach your child what to do if they want to prevent or report abusive messages, including keeping the evidence with screengrabs.

Related links

  • DCMS
  • Internet Matterrs
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