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How safe is life online? – Parents urged to talk to children about internet activity

PUBLISHED: 12:56 11 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:03 11 February 2020

Pressure is being put on online platforms to increase protection of vulnerable users Picture: GETTY IMAGES/iSTOCKPHOTO

Pressure is being put on online platforms to increase protection of vulnerable users Picture: GETTY IMAGES/iSTOCKPHOTO

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Parents in Suffolk are being urged to sit down with their children to “talk frankly” about online activity after figures revealed an average of 15 cyber crimes a day in the east of England.

The NSPCC estimates that 4,300 cybercrimes have been committed against children in the east of England and Thames Valley in nine months - with statistics based on the latest police recorded crime data from the first three months of 2019/2020.

Nationally, the charity estimated an average of one online abuse offence against a child was recorded every 16 minutes across England and Wales.

The statistics come as online platforms are facing growing pressure to protect vulnerable people on the internet, amid Government plans to tackle a wide range of online harms.

Today on Safer Internet Day, Suffolk police is asking parents to look at whether social media accounts, websites and apps that they and their children use are both appropriate and safe.

Safer Internet Day is aiming to promote positive use of the web Picture: GETTY IMAGES/iSTOCKPHOTOSafer Internet Day is aiming to promote positive use of the web Picture: GETTY IMAGES/iSTOCKPHOTO

MORE: One child a day saved from 'dangerous' online sex offenders in 2019

Detective Superintendent David Giles said: "The theme of this year's Safer Internet Day is 'Together For A Better Internet' and by working together families can ensure they are all playing a role together to stay safe online.

"We are asking parents and carers across Suffolk to sit down with their children and talk frankly about their online activity.

"Get to know and become familiar with the social networks your children use, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, YouTube, and Tumblr.

"InternetMatters and ThinkYouKnow websites are good sources of information for keeping up with the latest social media networks and advice."

According to a new survey coinciding with Safer Internet Day, more than a third of children find it easier to be themselves online than offline.

A total of 38% also said they see the internet as a safe space to explore and grow, but many also shared concerns about the behaviour of others and the need to create secondary accounts to protect themselves.

MORE: 'Parents must understand the risks' - The online threats that could put your child in danger

Will Gardner, director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, said while the internet holds many positive experiences for children, people must also acknowledge "the pressures, challenges and limits" it can also bring.

"It is so important for all of us - adults, businesses, and government - to support young people to harness the internet for good and make it a place where everyone is free to be themselves," he said.

During the week, officers from Suffolk police will be visiting schools in the county to educate pupils on internet safety.

Tim Passmore, Suffolk's police and crime commissioner, said: "Keeping Suffolk's young people safe online is massively important - the internet has huge benefits but it can also pose huge dangers.

"I fully support the 'Together For A Better Internet' campaign to highlight the risks.

"We must work together to protect our young people and make parents and carers aware of the help available to support their children.

"These threats need to be tackled now and I have pledged to do all I can to protect young people in the county."


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