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Safer Internet Day successfully raises awareness about online safety



Safer Internet Day (SID), organised by the UK Safer Internet Centre, was held on February 11, receiving record support for sharing awareness about online safety.


Taking place across the UK, Europe and more than 100 countries worldwide, SID with its 2014 theme of ‘Let’s create a better internet together’, saw pledges of support from the Prime Minister, Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle and hundreds of organisations.


To help combat online abuse, SID is held in February each year to promote the safe and responsible use of online technology and smartphones for children and young people. 


Research compiled to mark the occasion has revealed some valuable insight about the behaviour of children online, parental knowledge regarding secure online use of technology, parental controls and the dangers faced by children using tablets and smartphones.


A poll by BBC Learning found that while 90% of parents in England said they had talked to their children about safe online surfing when using a tablet or a smartphone, most confessed that they allow their children to use them unsupervised.


Additionally, security firm ESET UK found that less than half of parents block unsuitable material on internet-enabled devices bought for their children despite the BBC report revealing that almost one in five children had ‘seen something on their devices that had upset them’, twice the number parents had expected.


"Unfortunately, none of us - of whatever age - is immune from encountering problems online. Without using controls such as built-in security, safety and privacy features and search engine filters, children will almost certainly run into something that really isn't appropriate for their age, or any age," said Tony Neate, chief executive of Get Safe Online.


Part of the frustration shared by parents is a feeling that their children have better knowledge of internet safety than they do.  ESET found that a third of respondents felt ‘ill-equipped’ to educate their children about staying safe online.


Advice from security specialist Kaspersky is for parents to encourage children to talk about their online experience, in particular regarding anything that makes them feel ‘uncomfortable or threatened’.  It is important that children feel they can discuss all areas of their online life without fear of judgment or reprimand.


Medal-winning gymnast Beth Tweddle, who was subjected to abuse on Twitter has endorsed the SID campaign: “It’s really important young people feel safe and empowered online and know how to report anything that upsets them or to tell an adult. It’s also vital that parents feel confident enough to discuss online safety with their children.”


The SID study, conducted by ComRes identifies some key statistics that highlight the gaps in parent/child discussions on internet safety:


  • Only 37% of parents say that they have spoken to their child/children about what to do if something upsets them online, despite this being one of the most important messages for children.
  • Almost half of parents say that they have spoken to their child/children about meeting strangers on the internet (48%) and protecting personal information online (43%).
  • People being unkind online is the top online concern for children, but only a third of parents (35%) report that they have spoken to their child/children about cyberbullying, and only a quarter (23%) say they have spoken to their child/children about being a good friend online.
  • Only 1 in 5 parents report that they have spoken to their child/children about sexting (21%).


Will Gardner, Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, said: “Everyone has responsibility to make internet safety a priority. Young people are increasingly becoming digital creators and we must equip them with the skills to continue to create and innovate by working together to make the internet a great and safe place.”


For further information and advice about discussing cyber related issues with children, visit Childnet and Get Safe Online.

Lisa Spriggs, Marketing Executive, The Security Company
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