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

Happy New Year and welcome to our January newsletter. During December there were a number of internet safety initiatives for parents to be aware of. The National Crime Agency launched a new campaign to make parents aware of grooming, blackmail and abuse.  While The Digital Childhood report made key age-related recommendations for parents to keep their children safe online.
Facebook launched Messenger Kids in the US so children from the age of six could chat online under the watchful eye of their parents. Theresa May came under pressure to target tech giants over content while last week Children's Commissioner Anne Longfield raised concerns about children's use of social media as they transition from primary to secondary school.

Children's Commissioner Warns of 'Cliff Edge'

Social Networking

The Children's Commissioner Anne Longfield last week warned that children were ill-equipped to deal with the emotional demands of social media as they reach secondary school, in her report Life In Likes. 

She warned that children as young as eight were worrying about ‘likes’ and becoming increasingly anxious about their online image and feeling validated. 

The in-depth report looked at how interaction with social media affected the wellbeing of children aged between 8 and 12.  

The study suggested there needed to be a well-rounded approach from schools, parents and social media companies to prepare children for the ‘cliff edge’ of social media’s impact when they reach secondary school.

Ms Longfield said social media “had come to dominate their day” and they had become fixated on figures and looking good online. 

The children’s commissioner conducted eight focus groups with 32 children for the purposes of the study.

NCA Operation Saved 245 Children From Harm

Social Networking

Sex offenders are increasingly using live video streaming platforms online to groom, blackmail and abuse child victims.

In just one week in October, nearly 200 suspected paedophiles were arrested in a UK-wide operation.

The National Crime Agency said these  arrests saved 245 children from harm.

The NCA and the National Police Chief’s council (NPCC) launched a campaign to encourage parents to be aware of the dangers of live streaming and warn their children of the behaviours that may put them at risk. They also  appealed for internet companies to do more to help.

NPCC Lead for Child protection, Chief Constable Simon Bailey, said: “ We will keep working so that nowhere online is safe for people out to groom children or see them being abused.

“We also need parents and carers to talk to their children about healthy relationships and staying safe online.”

Digital Childhood Report 

Social Networking

A groundbreaking new report has made some key recommendations for the education of children in the digital age.

The Digital Childhood report, led by Dr Angharad Rudkin, Child Clinical Psychologist at University of Southampton, and convened by Baroness Beeban Kidron OBE, Founder of 5Rights, considers how growing up in a digital world directly impacts on a child’s development.

The report made several key recommendations such as; all technology used by 3-5 year olds should be adult guided, while in the 6-9 year age bracket children should be taught the social norms of contact with other people especially those they don’t know.

It also stated that 10-12 year olds receiving a smartphone for the first time should be taught how to use age appropriate settings and safety features and it should be accepted that 13 -15 year olds is a time of growing autonomy but education and communication is critical to ensure safety and a positive experience.  

Dr Rudkin said: “Children and young people need to be supported on their journey through the digital world and should have access to the same privileges, information and rights that they enjoy in the analogue world.

“We all need to take more responsibility - government, parents and clinicians – to ensure children and young people are more informed and supported through their digital activity and we hope this report helps to improve things.”

Facebook Launch Messenger Kids 

Social Networking

Facebook launched a new version of its chat app targeting children under 13 with strict parental controls including contact approvals.

The free app, called Messenger Kids, hopes to attract parents looking for a safe online chat service, with a greater level of parental control, child-friendly features, screened content and safety filters to prevent children sharing inappropriate content.

Messenger Kids is a standalone app installed on the child’s tablet or smartphone, but controlled from a parent’s Facebook account. The child does not have a Facebook account, which is prohibited for those under 13; instead the app operates as an extension of the parent’s account. Only parents have the ability to add friends or delete messages.

There are no adverts or in-app purchases and the social network said the child’s information would not be used for advertising purposes.

Loren Cheng, a product management director at Facebook, said: “Whether it’s using video chat to talk to grandparents, staying in touch with cousins who live far away, or sending mum a decorated photo while she’s working late to say hi, Messenger Kids opens up a new world of online communication to families.”

Web Giants Should be 'Liable' Claim Watchdog
Social Networking

Prime Minister Theresa May was advised to target tech firms who don't delete abusive content, in a new report from the government's ethics watchdog.

The term "abusive" could mean racist, sexist, terrorist, and other hateful posts. The Committee for Standards in Public Life argued that web giants should be "liable" for the content they publish.

The recommendations from the report included:

  • The government should speed up legislation to make tech firms liable for illegal online content.

  • Tech firms should make fast, consistent decisions about taking down posts that intimidate politicians.

  • The government should create a new law, which makes intimidating MPs, candidates, and campaigners an offence.

The report is part of an inquiry into intimidation of MPs during elections, much of which takes place on social media. However, the report doesn't claim social media companies "should be considered fully to be the publishers of the content on their sites."

New Digital Resilience Toolkit for Parents 

Social Networking

Internet Matters is delighted to launch its new range of age specific toolkits on digital resilience later this month. The guides create with the support of our expert ambassador Dr Linda Papadopoulos will help parents encourage their children to feel empowered and gain a sense of control over their digital lives.

Digital resilience, which is the new buzzword in online child safety, is about parents setting norms for a child, helping them form values online and allowing parents to arm their children with consistent and adequate coping strategies.

For this month's What The Experts Say click here.

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