The Risks Associated with the Internet and Online Social Networking

The Risks Associated with the Internet and Online Social Networking

The internet, with its endless access to information, is a valuable tool but also a potential risk to safety and security. It is important to monitor or be aware of what a child sees and shares, or could become exposed to. There is a high risk of being exposed to sexual predators (for example, in chatrooms), pornography or radicalisation.

Using e-technology to bully people has become an increasing problem in recent years with over a third of young people having being affected at least once. There has been a massive increase in online bullying due to the use of social media such as Twitter or Facebook, which is easily accessible through mobile devices as well as computers.

Examples include:

  • Posting negative comments on someone’s Facebook/Twitter site
  • Taking on someone’s identity on the web to humiliate them
  • Harassing someone via their mobile phone/social media.

Staff should be aware of the risks and check that any technological devices children use are secure and have the relevant security installed.   Children may be enticed to access certain websites with the offer of special offers and prizes. They should report any concerns to a line manager immediately.

Use to answer question 11.5 i of the Care Certificate

The Risks Associated with the Internet and Online Social Networking

Inappropriate content – Children may see illegal or unsuitable content such as pornography, child abuse images, dangerous advice on eating disorders, self harm or suicide, radicalisation, excessive violence or race hate materials.

Ignoring age restrictions – Some websites and games use age restrictions and checks to make sure that children don’t see unsuitable content. Children must be at least 13 to register on most social networking websites and therefore such companies do not provide safety advice for children under the age of 13.

Friending or communicating with people they don’t know – Children and young people may chat or become ‘friends’ with people on social networks or online games. They may not actually know anything about the person they are communicating with, having never met them in person. This makes children vulnerable to bullying, grooming and sharing personal information

Sharing personal information – Privacy controls can limit who can see your child’s details, like their name, age and where they live. But when your child connects to someone as a ‘friend’, that person will have access to your child’s personal information, including their GPS location on some devices. Some ‘free’ games might ask your child to fill out lots of details before they can play and then illegally rent or sell this data on to others. Children and young people can also reveal their location by tagging photos, such as on Instagram, or checking in on Facebook or Foursquare. This enables people to find out where a child lives, socialises and studies.

Gambling or running up debts – Many online games are free but offer the chance to buy items such as extra lives or new levels. So children may run up big bills without realising. Gambling sites have strict measures to make sure that their users are adults, but young people aged 18 and over could be enticed by offers and prizes and try to access these sites with the temptation to win money etc.

Source: NSPCC

Use to answer question 11.5 ii of the Care Certificate

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