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With all today’s continuing technology we have a responsibility to help and look after children and young people. E-safety is a safeguarding issue and we must have an understanding of it. Children and young people are open to many risks while being online or using their mobile phones, they may be lured into giving personal information; name, age, address and telephone numbers which could be used for identity theft or fraud. This also opens the possibilities for the abuse of children and young people to occur.

Dr Tanya Byron outlined in her 2008 report ‘Safer children in a digital world’ that everyone has a role to play in empowering children and young people to stay safe while enjoying new technologies, just as it is everyone’s responsibility to keep children safe in a non digital world. The key points in the report were; • The safety of children should be a vital concern for parents and for society. • The risks to children and young people of potentially harmful and inappropriate material. Efforts should be decisive in minimizing the availability of harmful and inappropriate material in popular parts of the internet. • Parents play a major role in overseeing children’s access to material on the internet. • Providing children and parents with appropriate guidelines, clear standards, and somewhere to go when things go wrong. • Video games must now be clearly labelled with age ratings, which are represented by a logo on the back of the game that represents each age group. • Computers that are sold for home use should be kite marked with parental control measures.

At my setting all children and parents are required to sign an e-safety agreement which shows that they are aware of the rules and accept them. However this does not protect them at home. So children should also be made aware of the risks and consequences There are a lot of different internet sites that can be dangerous for children and young people. All computers should have filtering systems like ‘net nanny’ and ‘child net’ with parental controls in place to prevent children and young people from accessing inappropriate materials. Some sites can be blocked completely by parents.

At the launch of the government backed ‘Zip it, block it, flag it’ campaign in January 2009 in which children are encouraged to follow an online “Green Cross Code” and block and report inappropriate content. It also offers tips for parents and children on how to stay safe online. Prime Minister Gordon Brown stated ‘By 2012 every household in Britain should have access to Broadband. ’ Children and young people’s use of the internet, e-mail and chat rooms should be regularly monitored and access restricted to ensure that inappropriate use is not being made.

Children will spend a long time on a computer if you let them so time limits need to be put in place, as they could become tired and not want to go to school the next day. Children should be reminded never to give personal details such as phone numbers photographs or email addresses to people online. They should also limit any other details like what school they go to, their age or any clubs they attend as this information could easily allow people to gain information into their lives.

Social networking sites can be accessed by others and parents should always check that privacy settings are not open to all. People using networking sites can pretend to be someone they are not i. e. a 30year old man could pretend to be a 17yr old boy therefore no personal details should be given. Networking sites became more heightened in the public when the tragic case of Ashleigh Hall hit the headlines in 2009 as she had befriended her murderer on a social networking site. There is a risk of Cyber bullying which may include receiving unpleasant texts, emails or instant messaging.

The child or young person may find cruel messages or pictures about themselves and may have their username stolen to spread lies or rumours. Techniques used by cyber bullies can include setting up websites to target certain individuals and inviting others to post hate comments about that person To help stop this from happening children should only use the computer in a family room and not in their bedroom. This is so the parent can keep an eye on what their child is doing and what sites they are using. Children can be exposed to ‘grooming’ via social networks and they need to be aware of these dangers.

Children must be aware of the dangers of buying things on line. They do not need a credit card to do this, they can use debit cards, top-ups and pre-paid cards. They need to know the dangers of being tricked into buying something from a fake website or giving their personal information to a fraudster. Identity theft and security issues is a problem and criminals could install malicious software onto their computer that might damage data, cause the computer to run slowly, gather personal information or steal your money.

Explain the risks and possible consequences of being online

You can prevent this by using a secure payment system such as PayPal which will then enable you to buy from multi online stores in the knowledge that details will not be stolen. Making sure your child tells you when they want to buy something so you can check out the site and help them. Make sure you have strong passwords – letters and numbers and symbols – on websites that you buy from. Teaching children to look for the padlock symbol and website addresses which begin with ‘hppts://’ as this makes them secure sites. Mobile phones can also be a danger to children and young people because most of them now have internet access on them.

So they have the same dangers as a computer. To reduce these risks mobile phone retailers now market phones with filtering software, which stops children and young people from accessing inappropriate websites or images. Parents do have to ask the operator to activate the filter and should also register the phone as a child user to ensure they are unable to access material that is rated 18+. Never allow your children to have ‘bluetooth’ on their phone and never let your child give out their number to people they don’t know.

Never let your children take photos or film of other children/people without their consent and only post pictures that you would be happy for everyone to see. If they start to receive nasty or rude calls tell them not to reply and keep a note of them so you can deal with the problem. Reminding children that they should never give out their mobile number to strangers or other young people that they do not trust as images that are sent via their mobile can be changed and shared online, once that image has been sent then they have lost control of it.

Children are often given mobile phones for safety reasons like walking home etc. They should be told to use it as little as possible whilst in public places as there is a risk they may be attacked or mugged for their phone. References – BBC News website Internet Safety for children targeted by Jonathan Fildes, The Telegraph Online- Ashleigh Hall search, Dr Tanya Byron review 2008 google search, Children and young people’s workforce – Penny Tassoni, pages 130-132, cache nurturing achievement – Carolyn Meggit, page 138-140

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