Children’s online safety highlighted

Over a quarter of young people say their parents never talk to them about their time online, according a survey that was published this week to coincide with a new internet safety campaign.

As from Tuesday (February 9) parents and young people will see the digital code, ‘Zip it, Block It, Flag It’ brought to life with radio, press and poster advertising, as the new internet safety campaign ‘Click Clever, Click Safe’ is launched.

The campaign launch comes alongside a new survey of young people which shows that many parents still aren’t talking to their children about internet safety; and yet the average 6-14 year old communicates with more than 1,100 people online in a year.

The survey, conducted by Young Poll, found that:

Just over a quarter (26.8%) of young people say their parents never talk to them about how they’re spending their time online – which can leave a child more vulnerable to cyber bullying, people accessing their personal information and witnessing potentially harmful or upsetting content
Out of the 73.2% of young people who did talk to their parents, under half said their parents talked to them about using the internet safely
From the same group, less than 43% said their parents used controls to stop them accessing inappropriate content online
Young people spend an average of eight hours online each week – with the majority of time spent on social networking and gaming sites
Only 34% of young people have met in ‘real life’ all the people they speak to online.

Commenting on the campaign launch, Children’s Secretary Ed Balls said: “It’s important that parents and children understand the risks involved with using the internet, as with any area of life ... Many parents are still not talking to their children about how to use the internet safely or using parental controls. In the offline world most parents feel confident to set boundaries and have discussions with their children, in the online world they often struggle to discuss safety on the internet.”

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said: "This Government takes protecting children seriously which is why the Home Office established the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre.

"CEOP’s work protecting children from predators off and online has seen them track down high risk missing child sex offenders, safeguard over 500 children, and helped dismantle 205 sex offender networks.”

Strategies adopted by CEOP include: an interactive cartoon introducing young children to the adventures of Lee and Kim (see picture); and a new browser that will sit on IE8 and will provide young people direct access to CEOP’s advice and guidance.

David Coleman, clinical psychologist, broadcaster and author, was given early access to the new CEOP resources while it was being developed. “The Lee and Kim film introduces young children to a number of important concepts which will enable them to explore online environments safely,” he said. “Understanding what constitutes 'private' information – and recognising that people can pretend to be different online – is critical to developing safe behaviour online, which greatly reduces their vulnerability to abuse.”

The new advertising campaign is part of the Government’s action in response to the Byron Review, published in 2007. The Review found that 53% of adults want more and better information about the internet and 57% of parents whose children use the internet do not know where to get information about how to protect their children online.

The digital code – Zip it, Block it, Flag it – encourages parents and children to adopt a few simple strategies to help them stay safe online:

Zip It: Get your children to keep their passwords private
Block It: Make sure your children know how to block people that upset them
Flag It: Ask your kids regularly if they have seen or done anything online that has upset them