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Two thirds of young people in region have seen inappropriate content online

February 7, 2017 12:08 PM
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Two thirds of young people in region have seen inappropriate content online

Thousands of organisations are uniting today to promote Safer Internet Day

Tow thirds of young people in the East of England have seen inappropriate content online, according to new research.

The findings have been published as hundreds of organisations and schools across the region mark Safer Internet Day 2017 today (February 7).

Government ministers, celebrities, online-based businesses and police services are backing the campaign to promote better and safer usage of the internet.

The UK Safer Internet Centre's research has revealed that the majority of children (79 per cent) of children in the East of England aged 8-17 have shared a photo online - one in 10 said they had shared a selfie photo in the last hour.

Over two-thirds (68 per cent) of young people surveyed in region have been inspired to take positive action by an online image or video.

But 22 per cent have bullied online and 69 percent have seen content inappropriate for their age.

The ‘Power of Image’ survey also suggested that digital culture was putting pressures on young people's body image and leading them to engage in risky behaviour.

Some 38 per cent have used a photo filter in the last year to make themselves look better and 61 per cent had shared images with people they only know online.

Will Gardner, a director of the UK Safer Internet Centre and CEO of Childnet, said: "It is fair to say that in 2017 the Internet is powered by images and videos.

"This can magnify the risks and pressures that young people face, while also offering fun new opportunities for self-expression and creativity.

"Today’s findings remind us that with an ever-changing landscape, it is more important than ever to equip young people with the skills, knowledge, confidence and resilience to communicate using images and videos responsibly and positively."

The UK Safer Internet Centre is a partnership of between Childnet, the South West Grid for Learning and the Internet Watch Foundation.

Its annual Safer Internet Day is backed by 1,000 of organisations across the world, including the BBC, BT, Sky, O2, Vodafone, Lloyds Banking Group, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Google and the NSPCC.

This year's theme of 'Be the Change' aims to create a united front in tackling the risks of communicating online.

Activities include providing education packs and films to schools across the country and rolling out a social media campaign.

The UK Safer Internet Centre Awareness Centre provides advice and support to young people, parents and carers and schools through its awareness centre, helpline for professionals and anonymous hotline for reporting online child sexual abuse imagery.

Minister for Online Safety, Tracey Crouch, said: "The Internet has provided young people with some amazing opportunities, but one of our top priorities is protecting them from risks they might face online.

"The UK is a world leader in Internet safety, and measures in our Digital Economy Bill will be instrumental in better protecting children from harmful content.

"But there is still more to do, and Safer Internet Day is a fantastic reminder that we all have a part to play in making the online world a safer place for our children to discover, explore and enjoy."

In Cambridgeshire the Carers Trust is promoting Safer Internet Day to the young and old carers it supports.

This includes advice on social media, online Q&As, blog posts and carer groups information sessions.

The organisation supported 791 carers in Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and Norfolk last year and has had more than 6,000 visits to its website since June.

John Turner, impact and improvement officer, said that both young and older carers need advice on Internet usage.

He said: "The older generation do need some extra support as well as young carers too, to make sure they are safe.

"For older carers... they are doing a lot of searches for benefit advice. They need a lot of support."

Both groups are given advice on password security and communicating through social media sites such as Facebook.

Mr Turner explained that carers rely on the Internet for support as they are often restricted by their caring duties.

"A lot of carers can't get out and about as freely as others can because they have their responsibliities.

"Being available online is more and more important... so they can do their shopping or find some information.

"I think there is some research on carers searching the government website at about 2 am. Carers who can't sleep are searching during the night. It's about making sure they are safe."

Mr Turner said the carers trust works hard to ensure carers have 24 hours access to the organisation's support.

"We've had online support group sessions. They can message us on Facebook if they are over 13. They can message us out of office hours.

Source: cambridge-news.co.uk

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