Online and mobile phone child safety
New technologies, digital media and the internet are an integral part of children's lives. Whether on a computer at school or at home, a tablet, a games console or mobile/smart phone, children and young people are increasingly accessing the internet whenever they can and wherever they are. This has enabled entirely new forms of social interaction to emerge, for example, through social networkingwebsites and online gaming. But these new technologies also bring a variety of risks from adults and peers, such as:
- exposure to obscene, violent or distressing material;
- bullying, coercion or intimidation through email and online (cyber-bullying);
- identity theft and abuse of personal information;
- pro-eating disorder, self-harm or suicide sites; and
- sexual exploitation by online predators – for example, grooming – often through social networking sites. See section on Child Sexual Exploitation
Where police undertake investigations into online child abuse, or networks of people accessing, or responsible for, images of sexually-abused children, consideration must be given to the needs of the children involved and sharing this information with the Named Person. This may include children or young people who have been victims of the abuse or children and/or young people who have close contact with the suspected perpetrator. In many cases, they will have been targeted because they were already vulnerable. Services need to consider how they can best support and co-ordinate any investigations into such offences. They should understand the risks that these technologies can pose to children and the resources available to minimise those risks. This will include having a clear understanding of normal, age-appropriate sexual development means, in order to better identify those attitudes and behaviours that they should be concerned about. When undertaking as assessment around child sexual exploitation they should considerer what risks are posed to the child or young person through the internet, and those that are posed by the child or young person to others.
Children, young people, parents, carers and practitioners need to understand the risks the internet and mobile technology can pose so that they can make sensible and informed choices. Practitioners and carers need to support young people to use the internet and mobile technology responsibly, and know how to respond when something goes wrong.
For more information, see the following.
- The Scottish Government Internet safety page.
- The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) provides
- information and resources on child internet safety and runs a well-established
- education programme, “ThinkuKnow”.
- Where a child comes across potentially illegal content online, a report can be
- submitted to the Internet Watch Foundation.
- WithScotland’s Keeping Children and Young People Safe Online: Balancing
- Risk and Opportunity
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection(CEOP) Centre delivers a multi-agency service dedicated to tackling the exploitation of children, particularly through the use of technology. That means building intelligence around the risks, tracking and bringing offenders to account either directly or with local and international police forces.
CEOP co-ordinate national awareness-raising days and provide educational resources incorporating the latest on-line safety and child protection advice for parents and professionals. There is a continuing national focus on this issue.
UK Safer Internet Centre - Professionals online safety helpline. Free independent advice. Support with all aspects of digital and online issues including social networking sites, cyber-bullying, online gaming, sexting and chid protection.