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NSPCC expert urges parents to talk to their children about online safety

PUBLISHED: 13:24 08 February 2018 | UPDATED: 14:01 08 February 2018

Abbie Gillgan (left) and Tapiwa Takawira discussed the need  for children to be open with their parents about what they're sharing online

Abbie Gillgan (left) and Tapiwa Takawira discussed the need for children to be open with their parents about what they're sharing online

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To mark Safer Internet Day this week we did a live question and answer session with child safety expert Abbie Gillgan from the NSPCC and O2 guru Tapiwa Takawira, to discuss protecting children online.

Since 2015, the NSPCC and O2 have been creating resources for parents to help their children use the internet safely.

Measures include the Share Aware campaign, which offers ideas on how to get kids talking to their parents about what they’re up to online.

“Share Aware is specifically aimed at parents of eight to 12 year olds,” Abbie said.

“It’s short videos that we encourage parents to watch with their children as a bit of a conversation starter. There’s messages on there about what’s safe to share and what might happen if you share too much online.”

On average, one in three internet users is a child, with one in four of them reportedly having experienced something upsetting on social media.

Abbie said: “We summarise online risks into three Cs. Content – that’s the things children see online, like sexual or hateful images.

“Conduct refers to what young people do, like cyber bullying, and contact is young people being exposed to content from adults. In extreme forms this could be grooming.”

Research conducted with O2 found eight-12-year-olds are particularly vulnerable, because it’s often the first time they get their own devices.

Abbie said: “Parents need to have regular conversations with their children about what they’re doing online.”

Tapiwa added: “And kids should understand it’s very normal, there’s nothing sinister or strange about telling parents what they’re up to online.

“They should go online together – some parents find it daunting navigating round sites, but there are tools we’ve developed to help them with this.”

Abbie emphasised the need for schools to do more in teaching digital literacy – from September 2019, every secondary school will be required to teach relationship and sex education, and primarys will teach relationship education.

“At the moment what’s taught varies school by school and that’s a big issue,” she said.

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