Staying Safe Online This Summer

Staying Safe Online This Summer

Summer is officially here and whether you have already broken up from school or are due to in the next few days, there’s no doubt that many professionals will be ready for a break! Although children and young people will be stepping away from the classroom, it is unlikely they will be stepping away from their devices. It is common for online activity to increase over the summer; after all, there is usually a lot more free time, without school providing some daily boundaries towards using devices and socialising online. Take a look at some practical ways you can raise awareness and support young people to stay safe online this summer.

Supporting Children and Young People

It was found in a recent Ofcom media use and attitudes report that ‘more than a third (36%) of children aged 8-17 said they had seen something ‘worrying or nasty’ online in the past 12 months.’ With such a common occurrence, it is useful for professionals, parents and carers to be aware of how they can support.

Social Media

Social media will be a popular choice for many, and while it is a phenomenal tool to stay in touch with friends and family members, there can be certain risks associated with young people experiencing harm online. It is good for parents and carers to be aware of what platforms are being used, as well as what the latest trends are. Take a look at what features may be available to help set some additional security around who they can connect with and the types of content they see. Why not also take a look at our recent social media hub to get the latest guidance as well as access to our social media checklists.   

Safer Internet Searching

In many schools, it is a requirement to have appropriate filtering and monitoring systems in place, but what about at home? Depending on the type of internet connection you may have, safer internet searching is an essential practice for when children and young people are spending more time at home. Discover Swiggle, the child-friendly search engine that is ad-free and can be used as your default home page. Swiggle consistently filters out harmful content whilst prioritising educational resources. You can also see guidance from the UK Safer Internet Centre around using devices safely.

Supporting Digital Wellbeing

More time online can lead to a poor online/ offline balance, which can sometimes negatively affect a young person’s digital wellbeing. Going online will be common for many, but try and encourage a young person in your care to set some time for offline activities as well.  Many social media platforms have included wellbeing features in recent times to set options around screen time and the way content is presented. Take time to see what is available and raise awareness around what willset some boundaries. You can find out more information in our digital wellbeing hub, which welaunched earlier this year.

Online Gaming

With more time at home comes more time to game. The Ofcom media use and attitudes report highlighted that ‘six in ten children aged 3-17 played games online in 2021, increasing to three-quarters of 12-17s’ As well as this, ‘more than a third of 8-17s who gamed online played with people they didn’t know (36%)’ Gaming provides a lot of connective freedom and is clearly a massively enjoyable experience for many but it is important for young people to understand where risks may occur and how they can safely navigate these online spaces. Raise awareness around how to block, mute and report someone who is being inappropriate as well as highlighting that it is ok to step away from the game if they feel uncomfortable. Get more guidance and resources in our gaming hub.

Reporting Harmful Content

At the heart of staying safe online is understanding where to go to if you need support. Online harm can appear at any given time, which can often cause considerable upset and worry for many children and young people. Get a grasp on what reporting features are available for some of the most popular online platforms and encourage young people to discuss any concerns with a trusted adult no matter what they may be. If someone needs further support and is 13+, you can contact Report Harmful Content to get advice around reporting legal but harmful material online. 

If you want to stay up-to-date with SWGfL over the summer period, make sure you sign up to our newsletter. As always, have a fantastic summer!

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