Government plans to help protect children by making Britain the safest place in the world to go on the internet have been welcomed by Barnardo’s.
As the UK’s largest children’s charity, we have been calling to make the internet safer and for parents to be more aware of the mobile technology children are using and who they’re talking to online.
Our concern is that the digital revolution is enabling the sexual abuse and exploitation of children and young people via the internet and mobile devices.
The Government’s Internet Safety Green Paper represents a golden opportunity to make social media companies more responsible for the content that may appear on their sites.
We have recommended that the industry introduces measures to prevent online abuse. These include ensuring current and future products, like games and apps, have safeguards to prevent children being harmed and that users are clearly informed about privacy settings.
We also believe that children should be taught about online dangers in compulsory, age-appropriate, relationship and sex education lessons being introduced in 2019.
There needs to be an online code of practice that every social media company signs up to. Companies also need to incorporate basic safety features during the design of their products from the outset.
And we also need to ensure that every child is taught the skills they need to be safe online.
A recent YouGov survey for Barnardo’s of more than 2,300 people revealed that a quarter, 25 per cent, of youngsters aged 13 to 15 said they had communicated with a stranger on social media. This included 27 per cent of girls and 33 per cent of 14-year-olds.
The poll results coincided with the release of Childhoods in a Digital World, a paper by Barnardo’s that examines both the challenges and opportunities to children from the rapidly evolving technological world.
This proposal is what we at Barnardo’s have been calling for to help protect vulnerable children and young people.
We look forward to working with the Government to ensure children are safe online.
Director, Barnardo’s East Region