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Safer Internet Day: Building online safety practices with young people

Many organisations around the UK are contributing to the important work on making the internet a safer place for everyone

Tuesday 6 February marks Safer Internet Day 2018. Using the hashtag #SID2018, organisations globally will celebrate the safe and positive use of technology.

In Britain, the UK Safer Internet Centre, will be coordinating the activities of over 100 countries to “unite for a better internet”. Last year’s #SID2017 initiative saw its highest engagement with 1,645 UK organisations supporting the event. Some 42% of children aged 8-17 and 23% of parents heard about the day in 2017, and this year we hope to see more people aware and presented with the online resources to help young people navigate the web effectively and safely.

To achieve this, tech businesses can easily support the initiative by promoting and raising awareness through social media and using #SID2018. Some organisations will be going the extra mile by running events and creating resources that will be getting updated on an ongoing basis.

For example, the South West Grid for Learning run sessions for children, staff and parents throughout the year. Activities such as this mean a lot more schools directly working to involve parents actively, including online safety in the curriculum, and even empowering students in peer-to-peer activities to help each other stay safe.

Safe and secure environment

The idea of supporting #SID2018 is that we work throughout the year to ensure the internet is a safe, secure environment for young people at all times. This is not to negate the ongoing challenge that new technologies emerge every year, which adds complexity to this issue. Nonetheless, we need to understand that this evolving environment is one that our young children must move with, as it is likely to be them who will be using these technologies most in their future jobs, lives and relationships.

Progress will only be made if government works with industry to make the internet a safe and productive place
Julian David, TechUK

In a time where the UK must fill a digital skills gap, an acute understanding and practice of online safety education must evolve in parallel with the innovation of new products and services. This will enable individuals now and in the future to be safe, active digital citizens.

A number of organisations working in partnership with UK industry to tackle illegal content issues, such as WePROTECT, Global Alliance and the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), are excellent sources of information. The Royal Foundation’s Cyberbullying Taskforce has also set up a new code for children which offers simple steps to help tackle cyber bullying - Stop, speak, support.

There are also technical solutions provided by online services such as Google's Safe Search function and YouTube Kids, as well as Instagram’s keyword moderation tool which allows parents and users to block comments that contain inappropriate language.

Digital Charter

Over the last year we have seen increasing interest from the public and government on these issues. A recent example can be found in the government’s Digital Charter in which it has vowed to assure that data is used in a safe and ethical way.

Although this is of course welcome, there is no “one size fits all” solution to the issue of online safety and progress will only be made if government works with industry to make the internet a safe and productive place in our future digital economy. 

TechUK is very pleased to be an active supporter of this day, along with the many other organisations that are creating practical solutions to how we can make the internet a safer place for young people.

We encourage everyone including, teachers, parents, young people, industry and government to continue to add to the critical thinking, solutions and debate that will allow us to make the internet a safer place, not just today, but throughout 2018 and beyond.

Read more about internet safety

This was last published in February 2018

Read more on Security policy and user awareness

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