A couple of weeks ago, I attended an event organised by the BCS South West (but forgot to post this write up!) – it was a presentation entitled “Towards Onlince Safety” given by Ken Corish, an Education Advisor. Although primarily intended for parents of school children, I felt it had a lot to offer those of us working in other areas such Commerce or Industry, and thought that many of the points made by Ken were highly relevant.
The presentation notes can be downloded from the BCS website: http://www.bcssouthwest.org.uk/server.asp?page=pastevents (Towards Online Safety). These give a really good overview of the current situation and how the issues are being tackled. However, watch out for a couple of the pages as they contain some really bad language – just bear in mind that the screenshots are of real pages created by children on social networking sites and you might be a bit surprised.
In addition there were a couple of short videos shown that were created by CEOP as part of the process of educating young people about the potential problems – these have been shown in many schoools and I would suggest that if you are a parent, you might want to see these for yourself. They can be downloaded from:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IOOn2wR8bU (Where’s Klaus?)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vp5nScG6C5g (Think U Know: Girls)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4vyRBMjEv8&feature=related (Think U Know: Tom’s story)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4w4_Hrwh2XI&feature=channel (Think before you post)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CE2Ru-jqyrY&feature=related (Once posted, you lose it.)
Ken made the point that many adults don’t understand some of these issues, and so how can we expect children to. However, it’s also clear that many adults know little about online safelty or think that it is someone else’s responsibility. Whatever your view, it is important that the message does actually get around to everyone.
The Internet can be a great place – there is a lot of really good information available, you can achieve a lot and make great friends particularly if you are reasonably savvy. But it has its darker side and sadly, there are some really nasty people out there. However, that reflects real life and we should make sure that the more vulnerable people (and not just the youngsters) are properly educated to make sure that they stay safe.