Internet safety

We can all help to make the internet safer for children and young people. There is a flood of fantastic information from the organisers of international Safer Internet Day, which happens in early February every year. Please do make use of their ideas, advice and help every day of the year!

Some more excellent advice and ideas can be found at Mumsnet and at Parentzone.

The council supports the need for a national conversation about using technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively.

Importantly this is not an attack on the internet, it is the opposite, it is a way for us to make best use of the internet and to stop its’ misuse. The misuse of the internet means:

Children being contacted online by predators

All children will talk to strangers on the computer occasionally, and the vast majority of these on-line contacts are exactly who the say they are, but some aren’t. The aim of such people could be to lure a child into a real-life meeting or an illegal attempt to persuade a child or young person to send intimate images of themselves over the internet. The police have arrested 240 offenders in the UK for these crimes between 2006 and the end of 2017. It is rare but it is very serious. If you suspect any risk of such on-line grooming report it immediately please; on-line here CEOP or call the police on 999 or 101.

Information and support tailored to Southwark communities can be found at the council’s own website.

If you want to have a talk with the Communities team in the council about child sexual exploitation on-line, please contact Kevin Dykes on 0207 525 5601, or email Kevin at kevin.dykes@southwark.gov.uk or email the council at cse@southwark.gov.uk.

If you want to talk to the police about this, please contact Southwark child sexual exploitation police team, 0207 232 6476.

Children being bullied on-line

We know that cyberbully could be experienced by up to 25% of children and young people, even if the number is half of this estimate that would still be 2 million children experiencing cyber-bullying. It is just as worrying to know that 69% of young people under 20 have done something abusive to someone on-line. Parents and carers can find advice at The Safer Internet Centre or at Mumsnet. Clearly the conversations needed in families are as much to do with talking about good behaviour towards others, as well as talking about dealing with being bullied.

Inappropriate content

Between 1 in 10 and 1 in 5 young teens say that they have encountered something concerning or nasty on-line in the last year. A lot of children pretend to be older then they really are in order to use a social media site; which exposes them to on-line risks. Worryingly there is little evidence that children’s digital skill are increasing over time’ which means that when new social media sites are set up to appeal to children, not everyone can spot any danger signs. Advice directed towards children and young people about using the internet safely can be found here.

Extreme porn

Mumsnet have this to say “type the word 'sex' into Google right now. Assuming you have no safe search in place of course, within less than a minute we guarantee you'll have seen images you'd be horrified to imagine your child looking at”. This should prompt more parents to take some time to put controls into place on any computer or phone a child can use; learn how here.  For teens you may need a different approach, read tips and advice for keeping teens safe on-line. The main tip for parents is to keep communicating and stay involved.

Grooming by extremists

We have seen cases in the courts and news where vulnerable young people are recruited on-line and groomed into taking part in terrorism. This is a terrible crime and ruins young lives. We know that schools are aware and alert to the dangers of on-line grooming by extremists and they often put a stop to it before any long term harm is done. For parents and carers; please report your concerns here CEOP or call the police on 999 or 101. Lets’ stop it before it becomes dangerous.

Extremist click bait

Far Right extremist groups such as Britain First, often create click bait posts with everything from ‘support our troops’ and animal welfare videos that people unknowingly share without considering the source. This has provided the group with a stronger social media platform to spread their Islamophobic messages. Before sharing posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, always check the source in case you unwittingly share extremist messages. Increasingly technology companies are becoming active in tackling extremism online. Google and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue are partnering to fund innovative projects on and offline that seek to disrupt, undermine, counter or provide positive alternatives to hate and extremism. For more information on this fund, please see the ISD webpage.

What you can do

You can use the internet itself to help make the internet safer by helping more people to see good advice. You could consider posting or tweeting information found here:

  • Safer internet - tips and advice for all ages
  • Digizen - advice and social media and cyberbullying
  • Kidsmart  - advice for kid, parents and teachers
  • to report child sexual abuse on-line content to the IWF and CEOP Police

Contact the NSPCC to ask them about how to set parental controls on digital devices. You are welcome to phone them to get advice, telephone 08088 000 5002.

Page last updated: 10 January 2019