Tags: Child protection | Child Protection | Child Protection Coordinator | Classroom Teacher | ICT | ICT and learning

Internet safety for children and young people was the subject of an Online Child Protection Conference held last week.

More than 200 teachers and child protection officers gathered at the Optimus Online Child Protection Conference last Thursday to hear experts speak on child safety on the internet.

The internet is fast becoming the child protection officer’s greatest worry, with millions of young people using social networking sites every day. The keynote speaker, John Carr, secretary of the UK’s Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety and a leading figure in promoting online child protection, emphasised that the benefits of new technology far outweigh the disadvantages. In answer to one teacher’s question, Mr Carr said, “The issue is not to ban social networking sites and mobile phones in schools. The issue is getting young people to understand the risks and dangers and appropriate use and inappropriate use of the technologies. Banning it simply makes it more exciting.”

Teachers had the opportunity to tackle two of the UK’s biggest social networking providers, Bebo and Habbo, over safeguards against child exploitation on their websites.

Bebo’s Rachel O’Connell said, “We work with a range of self-regulatory bodies and adhere strongly to industry guidelines. We also spend a huge amount of time moderating the content on the site…our customer care and report abuse teams comprise more than half of the whole company.”

The overriding message is that we can’t hold back the explosion of new web technologies used by children and young people. What we need to do is ensure that they are safe and protected online.

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