When communicating via the internet, children and young people tend to become less wary and talk about things far more openly than they might when communicating face to face.
Those working with children and young people play a key role in supporting them to learn about how to stay safe online so it is vital that professionals understand the impact technology can have on their lives and how we can protect them from harm.
The UK Safer Internet Centre offers independent advice and training for professionals, parents and carers and young people on a wide range of online safety issues, including privacy, online reputation, gaming, grooming, cyber bullying, sexting and inappropriate behaviour on social media.
They have unique relationships with industry – including direct channels to escalate concerns to social media companies and many websites.
They also offer a dedicated helpline designed for all professionals and volunteers in the South West who work with children and young people, aiming to address online safety issues that workers might face, both professionally and personally. It’s available Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm and all email enquiries will be responded to during normal working hours.
Specific guidance for professionals about children exposed to abuse through digital media, including definitions, risks, indicators and specific protection and action to be taken, can be found in the Devon Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures Manual.
Your online safety
As well as ensuring that all the children and young people you work with are using the internet safely and not giving away private information about themselves, workers and volunteers must ensure their own safety too.
If you work with children and young people, you should use the same security and internet privacy settings that you recommend to children and young people so that you are not left open to online abuse, false accusations, cyber-stalking or bullying.
Key things to remember:
- Pick a strong password: Use a combination of at least six numbers, letters, and punctuation marks (like ! and &)
- Make sure your email account(s) are secure
- Log out of social networks when you use a computer you share with other people
- Run anti-virus software on your computer
- Familiarise yourself with the extra security featured offered by your social networks for example, Facebook lists these extra security features
- Think before you click or download anything – watch out for suspicious links, and always make sure you are on the correct website before you enter your login information
- Never give your username and password out to untrusted third parties, especially those promising to get you followers or make you money
- Make sure your computer and operating system is up-to-date with the most recent upgrades and anti-virus software
- Do not put your email address, address or phone number in your social media profile summary or on websites
- Only connect to people you know and trust
- Only share information you want people to know about you, keep your private life private
- Report any privacy issues to the Customer Service pages of the site you are using
- Consider carefully the possibly implications of linking to children and young people online that you know and work with
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