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Safer Internet day 2021: Why it’s more important than ever before

With the Covid-19 pandemic catapulting life online, Communications Co-ordinator Gemma Murphy, explores why Safer Internet Day is more relevant in 2021 than ever before.

As a parent of a 5 year old I didn’t think that internet safety was something I really needed to worry about, after all how often is he actually online? With schooling moving online, I stopped to think about the screen time he was getting and had a stark realisation that maybe I should think about internet safety and doing things to protect him from harm.

Safer Internet Day is celebrated globally in February each year to promote the safe and positive use of digital technology for children and young people and inspire a national conversation.

Digital Communities Wales is an active supporter of the campaign. This year the theme in the UK is ‘An Internet we trust: exploring reliability in the online world’.

Why this is more relevant than ever before

A recent report from the Internet Watch Foundation found that there was an increase in online child exploitation and harmful content in 2020:

  • Their analysts processed 299,600 reports, which include tip offs from members of the public. This is up from 260,400 reports in 2019. This is an increase of 15%.
  • Of these reports, 153,350 were confirmed as containing images and/or videos of children being sexually abused. This compares to 132,700 in 2019 – an increase of 16%. Every report contains between one, and thousands of child sexual abuse images and videos. This equates to millions of images and videos.
  • Of these, 68,000 reports were tagged as including “self-generated” child sexual abuse content – a 77% increase on 2019’s total of 38,400 reports.

As children continue to find new ways to connect with each other on a range of devices and platforms it is increasingly important to help them make smarter and safer choices about who they talk to and what they share online, especially with an increase of groomers online.

Internet Matters have a comprehensive guide on how parents and carers to support children with the issue of ‘stranger danger’ online.

As a parent what can I do?

With online learning becoming the norm I’ve started to have chats with my little boy about the importance of online safety. He knows to tell me if he’s seen something upsetting online, I’ve also deleted my Youtube app and replaced it with the kids version. If he’s on Youtube kids I can monitor what he watches and block videos I’m not keen on him watching. I’ve also set my internet router to safe search which provides additional protection from harmful content.

The Safer Internet Centre has produced a range of resources aimed at parents to help them support their child in identifying reliable sources of information online. The guides have been written targeting different age brackets from 3 years old right through to 18 years old. There are also suggested activities you could do as a family to help everyone understand the dangers of unreliable information.

In addition to the online guides, we at Digital Communities Wales are running a webinar aimed at parents to help them understand how to support their children with online safety.

To book visit: http://bit.ly/3p4z4zx

I work with young people, what information is available?

If you are a teacher or work within a youth setting you may be interested in the library of resources the Uk Safer Internet Centre have produced specially for educators. There’s an array of films, lesson plans, assemblies, quick activities and more! The Welsh Government Hwb site have made these available in Welsh too.

I’m hoping that my son will grow up understanding that not everything you see online is true and to question where information comes from. This is why I’m getting involved in Safer Internet Day, both personally and professionally. The internet, connecting digitally with others and technology is ever changing which is why I’d encourage everyone to get involved in the activities on 9th February. Thanks for reading!

You can get involved in #SaferInternetDay by:
• Visiting www.saferinternetday.org.uk
• Following @UK_SIC on Twitter
• Joining the national conversation using #SaferInternetDay
• Liking @saferinternetuk on Facebook
• Following @DC_Wales on Twitter, and Digital Communities Wales on Facebook
• Following @UK_SIC on Instagram