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I was born in 1978. A year after the first home computer had entered the marketplace.
My school work was written by hand into an exercise book. My university application form was produced on a friend’s word processor. My first email was sent in my first week of university. My first mobile phone was purchased when I was 21.
Little Miss H was born in 2013. That year, according to the Office of National Statistics, 21 million households in Great Britain had internet access.
There is no doubt about it, Little Miss H is a child of the digital age. This thought scares me. The internet is a great resource. It can be fun, informative, entertaining and a great way to connect to other people. But the internet and particularly social media can be a risky and dangerous place for children.
Years ago, I remember reading a story in the Guardian about a boy who ran up £900 of debt playing the Facebook game Farmville. At the time, I found the story amusing but now I realise that the tale had a serious undertone. It is easy for impressionable children to get sucked into a game or social media app and before they know it they are out of their depth.
According to the NSPCC the main risks and dangers of a child being online are:
- Inappropriate content, including pornography
- Ignoring age restrictions
- Friending or communicating with people they don’t know
- Grooming and sexual abuse
- Sharing personal information
- Gambling or running up debts
NSPCC’s Share Aware Campaign
The NSPCC ‘s Share Aware campaign aims to highlight the importance of protecting our children from these online risks and dangers. The campaign is targeted at parents of 8 to 12 years old and provides straight-forward advice about how to talk to children about online safety. It also gives information about the most popular social media sites and apps and the risks attached to each of these.
To launch the campaign, the NSPCC have created an animated video called “I saw your willy”. The video tells the story of Alex. One day Alex takes an inappropriate photo of himself and sends it to a friend using a privacy app. The picture gets shared around school before eventually ending up online. It is a light-hearted video with a serious message about the risks of over-sharing on the internet:
To accompany the campaign, the NSPCC have produced a guide to help parents become Share Aware and talk to their children about staying safe online. For more information on how to help keep your children safe online please go to the Share Aware website: www.nspcc.org.uk/shareaware.
If you are looking for advice about keeping children safe online, or if you are concerned about the safety of a child then you can contact the NSPCC’s 24-hour helpline on 0808 800 5000 or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you know of any children who are worried about online safety or have another problem that they would like to discuss with someone then you can encourage them to call ChildLine, a free 24-hour helpline on 0800 1111.
Do you have any tips for how to protect your children online? If you do then please share these in the comments.
Disclaimer: This post is written in support of the NSPCC’s Share Aware campaign but all thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.