Cornwall Council and the Safeguarding Children’s Partnership is renewing calls for parents to be aware of online dangers as young people return to home learning after the half term.
Children spending more time online unsupervised, such as in their bedrooms or when parents are trying to work from home, means there is a chance they could fall victim to exploitation and bullying.
Figures show that there has been an increase in online incidents across the UK since the start of lockdown, and more young people are highlighting fake news as an area of concern.
Independent Chair of the Safeguarding Partnership Board, John Clements, said: “We know that during the pandemic, there has been an increase in the number of reports of children across the country falling victim to predators who target them online, through popular apps, games and social media platforms such as SnapChat, Instagram and Roblox.
“Young people need to be aware of the signs of exploitation and online bullying and that’s why we have created a handy online guide on our website to support parents and young people.”
This comes as another report highlights that half of young internet users encounter misleading and falsified content online every day, with some noticing it more than six times a day.
Charity partnership the UK Safer Internet Centre questioned 2,021 children aged between eight and 17-years old about their online habits, revealing that 48 per cent said they came across misleading content at least once a day, with 24 per cent adding they encountered it between two and five times each day.
John added: “Children and young people spend a lot of their time online and it is essential that parents know what they are doing, the sites they’re visiting, who they are talking to and if the information they are seeing is correct.
“I am keen to stress that the internet is not all bad; in fact, over the last few weeks it has once again become a brilliant resource for keeping up with schoolwork, friends and family. However, you do need to be careful when it comes to sharing personal information and pictures.”
The government, the department for education and leading UK charities have issued consistent guidance: think before you post, don’t share personal information, being aware of scams, thinking about who you are talking too online, keeping your device secure, never giving out your passwords and covering your webcam when you are not using it.
John added: “We don’t want to alarm parents or carers and there is no need to lock away your children’s screen or to scare them with stories of bad people, but by taking a few simple steps you can help protect them online.”
The safeguarding board is a partnership between Cornwall Council, Devon and Cornwall Police, NHS Kernow and the Council of the Isles of Scilly and is in place to protect children in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly from harm.
For more information please go to ciossafeguarding.org.uk or if you have an urgent safeguarding concern you can contact the MARU on: 0300 1231 116.