Internet Matters October Newsletter 
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Hi <<First Name>>,

Welcome to our October newsletter.

In the past month there have been a series of developments in the world of online safety as the government continues their drive to make the UK the safest place to use the internet.  The media revealed that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport were considering an internet ombudsman while the Prime Minister appointed Baroness Joanna Shields OBE to be her special representative on Internet Safety.

A worrying report revealed that nearly a quarter (24%) of 14-year-old girls say they are depressed with experts making links with social media pressures. Internet Matters issued advice for parents on radicalisation following the Parson’s Green attack and launched their new schools page, offering teachers a wealth of resources on online safety.

UK Government is Considering Internet Ombudsman

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The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is said to be considering an internet ombudsman as part of their Internet Safety Strategy, according to reports.

The Minister of State for Digital Matt Hancock is making his final recommendations on what has been dubbed by the media as a ‘radical’ report.

The internet ombudsman would deal with complaints such as abuse and hate across social media and illegal content. As stated in the Conservative party’s election manifesto - a levy on social media companies would fund the policing of online offences.

It follows the Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders’ pledge to deal with online hate crimes in the same way they tackle face to face threats.The green paper detailing MP Matt Hancock’s recommendations is due to be released later this month.

Prime Minister Appoints Special Representative

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The Prime Minister has created a new role, which will help keep children safe online.

Theresa May has appointed Baroness Joanna Shields OBE as her special representative on Internet Safety.

According to a statement from Number 10: The unpaid role is set to support the delivery of the government’s objective to "make the UK the safest place to use the internet without fear of abuse, criminality or exposure to harmful content.” She will also work with internet providers to help smaller firms tackle online abuse.

Baroness Shields has a wealth of experience in the online world. She ran social media site Bebo before becoming VP and Managing Director of Facebook in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  She was Chief Executive of the UK Government’s Tech City initiative and was appointed ambassador for digital industries. Baroness Shields currently serves on the WePROTECT Board and will continue to support their work internationally.

Tackling Radicalisation in the Wake of London Attack

Social NetworkingLast month we witnessed the tragic Parson’s Green bomb, which injured nearly 30 commuters. Islamic State took credit for the attack and Ahmed Hassan, who was just 18-years-old was charged with attempted murder.

Radicalisation is a growing concern among parents.  Our latest 2016 Cybersafe study, which asks parents what online issue concerns them most and we discovered there had been a 28% rise in the number of parents worried about radicalisation between 2013 and 2016.  

Our ambassador Dr Linda Papadopoulos this week urged parents to talk to their children about the dangers of radicalisation and suggested possible signs which mums and dads can look out for.  Dr Linda reiterated to parents that radicalisation is another form of grooming as it is exploiting a child online for a certain means or purpose and it needs to be on their radar.

She provided parents with a guide to tackling extremism, which can be read here.

Mental Health Concerns Over 'Honesty' Apps
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Parents have been urged to be vigilant over so-called ‘honesty’ apps that encourage users to leave anonymous comments about their peers as it can open children up to cyberbullying.

The warnings came just days after a joint report of 10,000 children by University College London and the University of Liverpool - funded by the Economic and Social Research Council found that 24% of 14-year-old girls and 9% of boys were depressed.

Dr Praveetha Patalay put the ‘worryingly high rates of depression’ down to ‘increasing mental health difficulties faced by girls today compared to previous generations'. Marc Bush, Chief Policy adviser at Young Minds claimed they faced ‘pressures created by social media’.

Experts warned that apps such as Sarahah, are aiding that pressure as ‘people are generally nastier on anonymised sites’ according to Childnet CEO, Will Gardner.

The app which was created in Saudi Arabia for employees to give anonymous feedback to bosses and has gathered 90 million users, has become extremely popular among teenagers.

New Play Draws On Real Life Stories to Highlight Key Online Issues 

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As part of the Cyberscene project, The Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust and Kidscape present Cookies - a play inspired by true online stories of 120 students.

It follows seven teenagers dealing with the effects of sexting, radicalisation and cyberbullying. The Cyberscene project aims to use theatre to support the health and wellbeing of young people affected by cyberbullying and to raise awareness of not only the dangers of being online, but also the positives too.

The play will be staged at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 29th October 2017 for two performances. Find out more about the play

Internet Matters launched its new schools section offering a wealth of internet safety resources for teachers of all age groups. To see the new section, click here.

See the latest ‘What The Experts Say’ on How parents can create an open environment to talk

Visit our HUB for the latest news and opinions.

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