With the Pokémon GO craze sweeping the country and school holidays upon us, children are likely to spending even more time online during the summer – but how safe are they?
Today, July 25th, sees the start of the Switched On Parent campaign – launched by the internet security initiative Get Safe Online and supported by Cheshire Police – which highlights the importance of understanding what children are doing online and the risks they may face.
Research carried by Get Safe Online has revealed that 39% of parents surveyed felt that their children will be safer playing outside than online during the school holidays, yet despite this, more than a third have no parental control in place to keep their children safe online.
PC Liz Stanton, Youth Engagement Officer for Cheshire Police, said: “Many young people are connected with the potential for the internet as a valuable source of entertainment, keeping in touch with friends and having loads of fun, but if it's used wrongly, you could be at risk of illegal activity or abuse such as bullying, fraud or something more sinister.
“Unlike seeing someone face to face, people aren't always what they first seem online. This is why it is equally as important to learn how to keep safe while you are online and to know who you can turn to and trust if things start to go wrong.
“Internet safety is everyone’s concern and it is therefore essential that we all ‘police’ the net and know who to report to.”
Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, said: “Technology is now a given for children, but the online world changes so fast.
“We’ve seen that over the last few weeks with the mass uptake of Pokémon GO which now brings the online world into physical environments and a whole new set of risks.”
The research found that many parents in the North West are already using a range of different tactics to help protect their children from a variety of risks, including watching inappropriate content or being bullied online.
Two thirds of parents surveyed (62%) block their children from inappropriate content, while 36% monitor their child’s access to devices like smart phones and tablets. Just under half (45%) use free parental controls offered by the four ISPs and 38% use safe browsers like Google SafeSearch.
Technology may be a blessing for some when it comes to keeping children busy over the holidays, but it is not without its risks.
The start of the school holidays is the ideal time to remind children or to start a conversation about staying safe online.