A GLOBAL bid to improve internet safety for children is being backed by the Scottish Government.
Children’s minister Aileen Campbell said that she was “delighted” to support Safer Internet Day 2014 and hoped it would encourage more parents to talk to their children about the risks of going online.
The move comes as a poll for the UK Safer Internet Centre found only 37 per cent of parents in Britain had spoken to children about what to do if something online upset them.
Fewer than half (43 per cent) of parents have had a conversation with their youngsters about online pornography, according to the research by ComRes, while only 21 per cent have spoken about “sexting”.
Just 19 per cent of parents had spoken to their children about how to report something on the internet.
Safer Internet Day aims to promote more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially among children and young people. More than 500 organisations are backing it, including the BBC, supermarket giant Tesco, Facebook, Google and others.
Ms Campbell said: “I am delighted to support Safer Internet Day and this year’s theme – Let’s create a better internet together – is such a positive message that I hope it inspires lots of families to talk about it.
“The Scottish Government is doing a lot of work with partners to make us all better at sharing information with parents and young people on staying safe online.
“The safety and wellbeing of Scotland’s children is our priority and we owe it to them to educate on how to get the best out of the internet.
“The internet offers young people unprecedented opportunities to explore, learn and communicate and we can all play a part in making it better and safer.”
The event has been backed by Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle, who said: “It’s really important young people feel safe and empowered online and know how to report anything that upsets them or to tell an adult.
“It’s also vital that parents feel confident enough to discuss online safety with their children. It’s why I’m supporting the day to raise awareness of what to do and all the help that’s available.”
Will Gardner, director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, said: “This Safer Internet Day is the biggest one yet – the fantastic range of supporters really reflects how widespread and important this issue is.”
Elaine Chalmers, manager of NSPCC Scotland’s ChildLine in Glasgow and Aberdeen, said big rises in counselling for online bullying, sexting and grooming last year were “proof positive that more needs to be done to protect the vulnerable”.
She said: “The ease with which children can access the online environment – by phone, tablet, laptop and even gaming – means that we have to both monitor and educate young people to make safe and responsible choices.
“There is no question that industry and government have a huge responsibility to develop innovative solutions to the proliferation of child protection problems online, but the buck must not stop there.
“We need to step up to the plate within our schools, homes and communities to reinforce what is and isn’t acceptable, and to be prepared to engage with what children are really doing and experiencing online.”
Ms Chalmers added: “For many parents, curtailing the amount of time spent online takes priority over monitoring exactly what young people are accessing, and how they are interacting with other users.”