The UK government DCMS (Department of Culture Media and Sport) published a green paper the Internet Safety Strategy which consists of recommendations to improve internet safety and includes a code of practice for online behaviour such as bullying, grooming, exploitation. It includes greater accountability and clearer reporting tools for when abuse occurs.
Asian Mums Network believes there is a lack of accessible resources and tools for families from many communities where the risk of grooming, exploitation, bullying and self-harm are high. We want to equip mothers, grandmothers and women from hard to reach communities with the tools deal with these challenges so that they can be resilient against the emerging dangers of the web and digital technology.
We plan to speak to mums and grandmothers seek their advice on what they need to keep their children and grandchildren safe while at the same time helping them to be as tech-savvy as possible. Too many children have been victims of grooming and exploitation and as a consequence lost a vital part of their childhood. So many families have been left devasted and confused as to how this could have happened in their family.
Whether bullying online, communities that promote self-harm like #PROANA or grooming children for sexual activity or extremism, as a society we have to make a stand. Unlike us, our children have been born into a cyber, digital world and are therefore experts and online natives. We have to do everything we can to educate ourselves and keep one step ahead of the game. Allowing your child to navigate the web freely from their mobile phone or laptop in their bedroom is tantamount to inviting a stranger into your child’s bedroom and leaving them unsupervised.
Families need to have in place home policies, guidance, rules or even limitations to safeguard against online dangers. The internet is an amazing tool which provides us with a window to the world and access to vasts amounts of information. Many of us “grown-ups” have never experienced this when we were growing up – it’s new for us all, so let’s do what we can to ensure that our children’s online experiences are safe and positive.
The pilot internet safety project will run until December 2018 and will involve a consultation on existing parental resources and strategies. We will be designing and developing resources including training, workshops, blogs, multilingual resources, videos, short films, informational calendars and z-cards and finally a national conference evaluating the project and its impact.
Our training for mums and grandmothers will cover:
- Get online and social media savvy.
- What are the risk to your family and children?
- Promote safe use and practices in the home and beyond.
- Get to know your gadgets and devices.
Our Internet Safety awareness project will develop accessible audiovisual videos in key languages such as English, Bengali, Arabic, Urdu, Hindi and Somali or any language relevant to the local area. We will teach mothers and grandmothers everything we can about exploitation, grooming, self-harm, bullying, trolling and hate speech. By supporting parents to promote and implement safe internet and mobile technology behaviours within the home, we want to ensure parents are aware of ways of seeking advice and support through the correct channels for appropriate education and guidance.
Prevention and early intervention strategies for young people related to grooming, exploitation, radicalisation, bullying, trolling and self-harm will be available via the internet and a social media based portal, workshops, toolkits and information leaflets for parents, and other adults who are working with young people.
Early intervention and prevention are key to reducing risky online behaviours, as prevention is the most of the cost-effective cure. A key part any early intervention is to build the capacity of families and communities to secure the best outcomes for our children.
Why this project is needed
Mothers and grandmothers from certain communities are struggling with digital technology and want to keep in touch with loved ones and family members but need support in developing their digital skills. Their lack of ability risks leaving children and grandchildren vulnerable if young people are engaging in risky online behaviours or are targets of groomers and predators.
Many issues and vulnerabilities lead young, vulnerable people to seek out these people or groups, through befriending or looking for a sense of belonging. This leaves young people open to the risk of being exploited and then groomed. Young people can find themselves the victim of bullying and trolls or engage in self-harm from online communities that encourage and promote anorexia, bulimia and other unhealthy behaviours.
There are many crimes associated with the dark web exploiting modern technology including cybercrime, sexual exploitation, trafficking, and identity -related theft. In 2011 and 2015 the demand to secure evidence from mobile phones and computers has doubled.
One of the key elements of the Prevent Duty from the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 is for every school to have an Internet safety policy and provide ongoing training to staff and young people to reduce the risk of related vulnerabilities from these new and emerging technologies.
The increasing sophistication and wide use of social media by far right and Islamist extremists, sexual groomers, and online predators have heightened the risk of young people, both female and male; being groomed online for sexual exploitation, political violence and drawn into extremist activity or both.
Through our training and resources, we will ensure parents can encourage children to have a positive relationship with the internet and mobile technology and make the most of its power through education, information, connecting with family, friends and opening the internet beyond their immediate world.
Our campaign will promote better mental health and behaviours within hard to reach communities that can lead to positive outcomes and better life changes allowing children to pursue their dreams and careers and for parents to know they have been given all the tools they need to keep their children safe.
It is important that the Internet safety training has a positive and lasting impact on our communities. Therefore, it is imperative that this project is accessible and relevant to all sections of our community, so we will tailor what we do towards the needs of communities, for example, easily navigable links, images and blogs that link to key messages via video or multilingual resources relating to the use of Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, Skype, YouTube or Twitter.
The project will aim to build stronger communities throughout the UK. Many sectors of communities do not receive key government and agency key safety messaging and resources due to socio-economic and cultural barriers so Asian Mums Network wants to address this.
We will work in partnership with schools, the voluntary sector, internet safety providers, central government departments, local authority Prevent education co-coordinators, safeguarding boards, Channel, health, housing, community safety partnerships, the Children’s Commissioner, Police and Police Crime Commissioners.
Children are interacting online at a younger age and more than ever before, and it’s impossible for parents to watch over their children every second they’re online. Parents need to arm their children with the knowledge and skills they need to use the Internet positively without compromising their privacy and security.
While schools and the Government have invested millions of funds to teach children safe Internet practices, unfortunately, it is just not enough.
According to the Equality Act 2010 and Equality Duty (for public bodies) all parents and carers regardless of gender, age, disability, religion, belief, language, socio-economic, ethnic background or any other protected characteristic should have access to tools and accessible information so that they can protect their children and take an active role in their children’s understanding of safe online behaviours, privacy, ethics, as well as their well-being.
Visit the Internet Safety Blog
Growing up with the internet the report suggests:
Parents and carers need communicated information about the digital world. We recommend that the Government and industry should invest in regular public campaigns to promote information and tools that help parents and carers. In particular, a campaign with a short, memorable message, similar to the Green Cross Code, should be developed. It should focus on creating confidence in online parenting.
EU Safer Internet to a Better Internet for Kids:
Young people and children are today amongst the largest user groups of online and mobile technologies in Europe. To empower and protect them, it is, therefore, necessary to develop a proper strategy to encapsulate their needs.
Vicki Shotbolt, Chief Executive Officer at Parent Zone said:
Meeting the challenges of the digital age is something parents do every day. It is encouraging to see the government proposing concrete steps to ensure that industry is doing everything they can to support families and make the Internet a place that contributes to children flourishing.
A number of key findings on internet safety are compiled in the Green Paper:
Reporting to social media companies is low amongst those who recognise they have been cyberbullied. Children, particularly those who had no direct experience of reporting issues, had little confidence in social media companies to resolve cyberbullying (Cyberbullying: Research into the industry guidelines and attitudes of 12-15-year-olds. Family Kids & Youth. (2017)).
The amount of children exposed to hate content online seems to be rising. 64% of children and young people aged 13-17 have seen people posting images or videos that are offensive to a particular targeted group (Power of image: A report into the influence of images and videos in young people’s digital lives, UK Safer Internet Centre (2017)).
More than four in ten adults users say they have seen something that has upset or offended them on social media in the past 12 months (Adults’ media use and attitudes, – Ofcom report (2017)).
Ofcom estimates that the average weekly time spent online for all adults in 2016 was 22.9 hours, 1.3 hours more than 2013. 5-15-year-olds
spend 15 hours a week online; exposing themselves to risks. Even 3-4-year-olds who go online are spending 8 hours per week doing so (Children and parents: media use and attitudes, Ofcom (2016))
In the past year, almost one-fifth of 12-15-year-olds encountered something online that they ‘found worrying or nasty in some way’ (Children and parents: media use and attitudes, Ofcom (2016)).
Half of UK adult internet users say they have concerns about what is on the Internet. These concerns relate mainly to offensive/ illegal content (38%), risks to others/ society (22%) and concerns about security/ fraud (20%). Other concerns include personal privacy (9%) and advertising (7%) (Adults’ media use and attitudes, Ofcom (2017)).
- Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 Section 26 Prevent Duty (Home Office)
- Prevent Duty Guidance 2015
- Counter Extremism Strategy 2015 (Home Office)
- Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper 2017
- Internet Safety Strategy Summary