On a day when the online dangers faced by young people are again at the forefront of the news, campaigners have been urging for detailed lessons on internet safety to be taught regularly in schools. This is because there have been increasing fears that children with access to the internet are being exposed to inappropriate sexual content.
3,745 counseling sessions were carried out by ChildLine last year; 250 of the calls were reports that children were being 'groomed' online. 641 calls were received about exposure to online pornography, with some callers as young as 11 years-old.
Claire Lilley, safer technology lead at the NSPCC said: ‘We are facing an e-safety timebomb.’
‘The internet and mobile phones are now part of young people's everyday lives. They are the first generation who have never known a world without them.’
The NSPCC says that schools need to step in as the issue is something that parents struggle to keep up with. They are also urging all internet service providers to provide easy systems to allow parents to install online blocks and filters in their homes (although here at E-safety Support, we also advocate self moderation through their own understanding rather than creating barriers).
Phil Bradley, of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, said: ‘When it comes to the internet... children need to learn how to use it safely and how to differentiate the good from the bad.’
And with so much bad at their fingertips, it’s never been more important to make sure pupils really understand the risks they are taking when they set up an online profile, or join a social media site. For many of these ‘digital natives’, the internet is as natural a part of life as sliced bread was to their parents! So it’s quite understandable that there is a need for knowledge across the generations. Naturally, school is the institution where this can begin, but everyone must take a role to keep the children protected, including the children themselves.