I did an internet safety presentation to the association for retired police officers on Friday, and it still amazes me how little my generation know about social media and the internet in general. There are basically three camps when it comes to awareness of the dangers the internet poses to children..
and my mission is to move everyone into the middle, i.e informed but concerned. The biggest problem I have is with the group on the right as they are minded to completely block all access to the internet for children and this simply doesn’t work for a number of reasons.
- Banning anything often makes it more attractive, especially for more vulnerable children
- Locking down the home computer with all sorts of parental guidance software, doesn’t prevent access at a friend’s house or from a smart phone
- At some point children are going to have to fend for themselves and work out how to spot threats in much the same way they need to learn how to cross the road safely. Most of what I talk about can also be applied to parents as well so their online lives are safe from such things as identity theft.
Sadly there is no one piece of software, or one technique I can recommend for you or your children to be safe online, so what I talk about is what to be aware of and how to discuss this difficult area with you children. I can’t claim any credit for any of this, the program is worked out by CEOP and volunteer organisations like the NSPCC, all I do with like minded individuals is to deliver the excellent content they provide.
One other area that I talked about was cyber bullying, and here I must put myself in the blissfully ignorant camp as I thought this was really only a child related problem. However after my session a number of these retired officers told me they were working on cases of internal cyber bullying in the organisations they now work for. The approach in both cases is the same, as the law doesn’t really make any distinction between how harassment occurs, however with cyber-bullying, you can be traced and the evidence cannot easily be destroyed as it’s in the cloud. The only challenge is to give the victims the confidence to come forward and the reassurance that their complaints will be treated seriously and sensitively.