E-Safety and Staying Safe Online
Grooming or Other Illegal Behaviour
If you want to report someone who is behaving suspiciously online towards a child, you should in an emergency contact the emergency services by calling 999, or otherwise make a report to Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre (CEOP). See www.ceop.gov.uk.
Criminal Content Online
If you stumble across criminal content online, you should report this to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) at www.iwf.org.uk/report. Criminal content in the UK includes child sexual abuse images, criminally obscene adult content as well as non-photographic child sexual abuse images.
On-line content which incites hatred on the grounds of race, religion and sexual orientation should be reported to True Vision, which tackles all forms of hate crime, including those on the grounds of disability and transgender identity. True Vision, at www.report-it.org.uk, will give you information on content which incites hatred and how to report it.
If you have been ‘scammed, ripped off or conned’ you can report to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or www.actionfraud.police.uk. This service is run by the National Fraud Authority, the UK’s government agency that helps coordinate the fight against fraud.
Getting Help/Advice: For Young People
ChildLine: Is a free 24/7 helpline for children and young people. Visit www.childline.org.uk or call 0800 1111. ChildLine is run by the NSPCC.
Getting Help/Advice: For Parents
If you want to make a complaint about an advert, television or radio programme, film, newspaper, magazine, video game or other type of content that you think is unsuitable for children to see or hear, you can report it through ParentPort at www.parentport.org.uk. Click on ‘Make a Complaint’ and ParentPort will take you straight to the right place to complain to.
- Family Lives: A charity providing help and support in all aspects of family life. They have a 24/7 free Parentline on 0808 8002222, or visit www.familylives.org.uk
- Kidscape: Is a leading anti-bullying charity, which provides a helpline for parents of children who have been bullied. From 10am to 8pm, on 08451 205204 www.kidscape.org.uk.
- Childnet International Is a non-profit organisation working to help make the internet a safe place for children. ‘We strive to take a balanced approach, making sure that we promote the positive opportunities, as well as responding to the risks and equipping children and young people to deal with them’. Contact details are: www.childnet.com phone 020 7639 6967, email email@example.com.
- UK council for child internet safety (UKCCIS) has practical guides to help parents and others with internet safety www.gov.uk/government/groups/uk-council-for-child-internet-safety-ukccis.
- Thinkuknow has a section for parents which offers advice on protecting children from abuse online offered by the National Crime Agency’s CEOP Command www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents.
For parents concerned that their children may be becoming radicalised online the DFE has set up a telephone helpline (0207 340 7264) and an email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) to enable people to raise concerns directly with them.
Getting Help/Advice: For Professionals Working with Children
Professionals Online Safety Helpline: Helpline operated by the UK Safer Internet Centre offering professionals who work with children across the UK support, advice and mediation with on-line safety issues www.saferinternet.org.uk. The helpline can be contacted by email: email@example.com or telephone on 0844 3814772 (calls on this number are charged at local call rate).
Age Restrictions on Social Media Services
WhatsApp have announced a new age limit of 16 for users based in Europe. With the upcoming changes to Data Protection rules in the EU, this blog looks at what age restrictions are in place across the most popular social media services, why they exist and what our advice is for parents and young people.
Which Social Media Services Are Age Restricted?
WhatsApp have just announced a change to their terms and conditions for users based in Europe. Users will now need to be 16 to use WhatsApp.
Nearly all other social media services require users to be at least 13 years of age to access and use their services. This includes Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Musical.ly and Skype.
Whilst there is no age restriction for watching videos on YouTube, users need to be 13 or older to have their own YouTube account (enabling them to subscribe to other channels, like videos, post comments, share their own content and flag inappropriate content).
Why Do These Restrictions Exist?
The reason most social media services use an age limit of 13 or over is in part because of a law in the USA. The COPPA law or Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act states that any organisations or people operating online services (including social media services) are not allowed to collect the personal information of anyone under the age of 13 without parental permission.
To avoid the necessity of obtaining parental permission for any user under the age of 13, most services have instead chosen to place an age restriction of 13 to their services. They write this rule into their Terms and Conditions – which users must agree to when they initially sign up and some services may ask users to declare their age during sign up.
WhatsApp’s new age limit has been chosen in response to the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect from the 25th May 2018 and will only apply in the European region, and not elsewhere (e.g. the USA).
Users, and the parents of users, should expect to see more communications from companies and others over the coming weeks as they work to ensure that they are complying with the new General Data Protection Regulation.
What Do We Advise?
Whilst COPPA and GDPR exist to protect the personal information of children, there are also other elements of social media use which may not be appropriate for young users. Our Hot Topic for parents and carers provides more detail and guidance on these risks.
Our advice with regards to age restrictions is that it’s always better to wait until the required age to join any social media service. These rules around age relate to privacy, but also are relevant to safety. Some services offer additional protection for users who are registered as under 18, and by supplying a fake age young people can potentially lose some of this protection. Young people also risk being exposed to content which is intended for older users when they use sites that are not designed for people their age.
Additionally, if a service finds out a user is underage then they may delete the user’s account and any content which has been shared.
We know that social media services are popular with young people of all ages. Parents have an important role in helping prepare their children to go online before they start to use social media platforms. Together you can look at the key things they need to know about staying safe online, critical thinking, and the safety settings that are available to them.
When looking at creating a profile online with your child, have a discussion as a family and make this decision together – talk about why they want the account and ensure that any family members using social media know what tools are available to help them stay safe. You may want to use our family agreement to support with this.
Good Sources of Information and Useful Links for Parents About Online Safety
Parent Zone, a not-for-profit organisation, offers Parents information to help understand the digital world and raise resilient children. They also offer training for teachers on how to engage parents: http://parentzone.org.uk/
Parent and Carer support from the UK Safer Internet Centre: http://www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-and-resources/parents-and-carers
Childnet, provides information and advice for parents and carer, including a printable sheet available in 12 languages: http://www.childnet.com/resources/supporting-young-people-online
Vodafone's Digital Parenting resources: http://www.vodafonedigitalparenting.co.uk
Netware by NSPCC and O2, offers a guide to social networks for parents. https://www.net-aware.org.uk
Share Aware by NSPCC and O2, offers advice to parents about the internet: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/share-aware
Parentinfo by CEOP and Parent Zone provides high quality information to parents and carers: http://parentinfo.org
Parents section of CEOP’s Thinkuknow website. https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/
Engaging parents with online safety by Kent Country Council: http://www.kelsi.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/29749/Engaging-Families-schools-and-professionals.pdf