For young people the internet, and the increasing number of digital devices they use to connect to it, is an integral part of their everyday lives. Whether they use it to express themselves or to stay in touch with friends, for entertainment or education, the internet can provide tremendous benefits and most use it safely. But while digital technology provides a wealth of opportunities, we are all aware that there are online risks and sometimes these risks can lead to harm.
The risks young people might be exposed to online can be defined under three key headings:
Content: harm that can arise from exposure to age inappropriate, distasteful or illegal content
Conduct: harm that can arise from how young people behave online
Contact: harm that can arise from interactions with other individuals online
At the same time, while young people’s ‘offline’ and ‘online’ worlds are often merging, the behaviours and safeguards of the ‘real’ world are not always applied in a ‘virtual’ world where friends can be added at the click of button and information shared in an instant.
Children are taught about internet safety in school. Parents too can play an important part in helping to safeguard young people online so that together we help ensure that children and young people can safely get the most from internet.
This page and linked pages contain UKCCIS informed advice (Who is UKCCIS?) . A large number of organisations with expert knowledge of the internet safety field have contributed to this advice. It is based on messages which have already proven to be effective with children and young people and has been developed in line with CEOP’s Think U Know programme which, last year, was accessed by children more than 2 million times. According to independent research 69% of children who received this training said it made them more careful online.
How the advice is presented
The behaviours recommended here are safe behaviours that children and parents can use to mitigate or respond to risks. The advice is presented in six sections which reflect different services provided online that are used by children. This structure is designed to help you tailor messages to your audiences at the appropriate points.
The sections are:
Chatting: anything which allows users to communicate in conversation with one another – this could be in the form of text-based messaging, voice-based or video-based communication such as via webcam and can either be instant (such as text messaging) or delayed (such as e-mail or voicemail)
Sharing: anything which allows users to upload data or information (such as pictures, videos, text, location data) that can then be accessed by other users or sent to other users. This includes sharing within a controlled environment (e.g. sharing only with ‘friends’)
Gaming: anything which allows users to play games in an online environment against other users. This includes simultaneous play (e.g. an ‘online world’), ‘turn by turn’ play (e.g. chess on a mobile phone app) and play that contributes to a published leaderboard (e.g. console online ranking systems)
Content providing: anything which allows users to search or browse for content that can either be viewed online or downloaded to their device. This includes information, all types of media and file formats including applications
Networking (closely relates to ‘sharing’): anything which enables users to ‘friend’ other users, thereby allowing friends to see information about them. This may include the ability to publish content out to a broader audience of users (including friending and building communities)
Shopping and commerce: anything which allows users to effect transactions on their site, either for physical goods, virtual goods or services. This includes transactions where users pay using ‘points’ rather than money or where users agree to make a purchase at a later date rather than transact immediately (e.g. click and reserve)