Online Safety

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23 Oct: What parents need to know about online grooming and sextortion

The NSPCC defines online sexual grooming as “a preparatory stage of sexual abuse. Grooming oc- curs when a known or unknown adult, or member of their peer group, uses online technology to communicate with a child or young person with the intention of encouraging or manipulating them to engage in sexual behaviour.” While historically the sexual abuse resulting from grooming took place face-to-face, increasingly this involves the sharing of naked imagery. A recent NSPCC survey of other 40000 children and young people showed that, on average, nearly one child in every class had been sent a naked or semi-naked image by an adult, including those in primary school. Around half of these children and young people had sent a naked or semi-naked picture to an adult. Of particular concern is the rise of young people livestreaming, i.e. broadcasting themselves or their friends live over the internet. Many platforms in- clude…

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09 Oct: Addiction by design

Designers of social media and other apps are using deliberate strategies to keep users on their platform as long as possible. A leading technology designer who has designed some of these features himself has described these features as “behavioural cocaine”. The Dis- rupted Childhood report from the 5Rights Foundation states that “It is unreasonable to design services to be compulsive and then reprimand children for being preoccupied with their services.” Young people and their parents need to un- derstand that far from being a free, personal choice, many technology engineers are de- signing platforms that deliberately suck them in to spending more time on those platforms and that this can have unhealthy consequenc- es for themselves and their friends. It is clear that some young people are strug- gling with increased anxiety and depression, video game or social media addiction, loss of sleep and other issues resulting from use of…

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03 May: My child is being bullied online

Schools and the police receive many reports from parents and carers that their child is being bullied online. If your child reports this to you, you need to consider the best way of supporting your child. Online bullying can take many forms: it can be sending of mean or unpleasant messages either individually, in group chat, or posts on social media, or excluding someone from groups; it could also include threats to harm someone or editing of photos to make it look like someone has shared a nude image of themselves. It can happen on messaging apps, social media, gaming networks or any platform where people can communicate. The person or people responsible can be someone known or someone unknown. Sometimes anonymous accounts will be set up purely to bully someone else; sometimes someone will access someone else’s account in order to cause trouble for the person. Most bullying behaviour…

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03 May: Fortnite: Battle Royale

The chances are if you have a child that likes gaming, they will have asked to play the new craze Fornite: Battle Royale. This is a spin-off from the game Fortnite that is available for PC/Mac, Xbox/Playstation and iOS (Apple tablets and phones) but not yet for Android. Fortnite: Battle Royale is a 100-player last person standing shooter rated PEGI 12 for violence. Players are dropped into a game map and have to shoot the other players to win the game. During the game, players can collect and unlock weapons, build structures to hide or defend themselves and try to avoid the storm that damages all players outside the safe zone. During the game, the land available is reduced so survivors are forced closer together. The last survivor is the winner. Players can play solo, duos or in squads of four and it can be played across different platforms. While…