Despite attending Online Safety Day 2021 in September, I decided to also sign up to one of the UK Safer Internet Centre (UKSIC)’s (https://saferinternet.org.uk/) Online Safety Live events as they are always so enlightening and engaging. You can never hear enough about staying safe online. It is such a dynamic realm and really important to embrace every opportunity to stay up-to-date with developments, issues, etc.
Open to all professionals who work with children and young people, these events provide the latest in online safety research, legislation, technology, tools and resources, along with exclusive access to a wonderful presentation and associated materials. Online safety is constantly changing and the purpose of these Online Safety Live events is to give access to this information. Those at UKSIC understand that everyone is time-pressured, hence why they have planned these short briefing sessions. They include vital information about online safeguarding, critically supplemented with access to more detail to review at a later date. The team are also available afterwards to answer any online safety-related questions that you may have.
The morning began with the presenters, David Wright and Boris Radanovic, welcoming everybody and introducing themselves. The briefing was divided into five sections, namely Covid-19; threats; obligations; action and support. Each of these were adeptly explored, either by David or Boris.
Boris discussed the changing landscape from 2012 to 2020. He projected a diagram to show what happened in an Internet minute in 2020; pretty incredible! Pre-Covid, technology was all about AI and IoT; big data and smart places; voice interaction and facial recognition; services with no content and personalised. Safety very much concentrated upon empowering, not stifling; risks to all online, not just young people; data and privacy; regulation and the safety technology industry. Now, it is all about connectivity; contactless; screen stacking; communities of interest versus place; trust and necessity being the mother of invention. An infographic (Covid 19: Expectations and effects on children online) was projected on the screen; it concluded that ‘the heightened risks of online harm for children put a particular responsibility on tech companies and service providers. This is not the time to lessen the priority on children’s safety’ (Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden). It also stated that ‘Policymakers will need to consider and accommodate the impacts of Covid-19 on children for many years to come. There will, without doubt, be a lasting impact on children from Covid-19.‘
David then focused on threats, which were analysed via a series of questions:
- Mental well-being (Is screen-time an issue? Addiction versus problematic use);
- Harmful content (Do children and parents need to be warned about dangerous apps or challenges? Harmful content; how to respond);
- Gaming (Have we seen more negative issues arising from Covid? Content; sociality; spend);
- Self-generated images (Do children share self-generated images less if they know it’s a crime?);
- Online bullying (During Covid, has online bullying got better or worse? Variation; benefits; targeted).
When contemplating obligations, our attention was drawn to guidance that has recently been produced, documentation from the Department of Education and comments from Ofsted.
Next, action was addressed. This was sub-divided into seven areas, e.g. ownership; reporting, policy; staff; education; technology and evaluation. Much of this is considered during our Online Safety Assessor Update Training, plus I have frequently been asked to review and comment on developments, such as that regarding the 360 degree Safe tools and the wording of online safety papers. It was clear from the chat feed that many participants had been made aware of useful websites, tools and resources, which they could now go away and investigate further. David also showed a short clip relating to Project Evolve, a brilliant FREE toolkit to access based on ‘shaping a better online life for all‘.
So that we did not feel overwhelmed or alone, we were signposted to some fantastic sources of support. Reporting, both illegal and legal harmful content, Professionals Online Safety Helpline (POSH) and the latest news sources, including SWGfL’s newsletter and podcast, were all highlighted.
Finally, David asked us to ‘save the date’; Safer Internet Day 2022 will take place on Tuesday 8th February with the theme of ‘All fun and games? Exploring respect and relationships online’. From gaming and chat, to streaming and video, young people are shaping the interactive entertainment spaces they are a part of. Safer Internet Day 2022 celebrates young people’s role in creating a safer internet, whether that is whilst gaming and creating content or interacting with their friends and peers.
David and Boris lingered for a few minutes to answer any questions that individuals had.
Like myself, many felt that it had been a hugely productive way to spend a Tuesday morning. It was great to see and chat with the team once again too.
Well done all!