Safer Internet Day Shines Spotlight On Digital Safety
Monday, 6 February 2017
While the internet provides many positive educational and social benefits to young people, there are a number of risks too. From access to age restricted products such as tobacco and alcohol, through to pornography, gambling and gaming, young people can easily find themselves knowingly or unknowingly engaged in activities which could be inappropriate or even illegal, and have the potential to put them in danger.
To raise awareness of this issue and to help promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people, Safer Internet Day was established in 2004, bringing together thousands of organisations from countries around the world to highlight positive uses of technology and to explore the role we can all play in helping to create a better, safer online community.
Held this year on 7th February, the theme for Safer Internet Day is ‘Be the change: Unite for a better internet', which calls upon all stakeholders to join together to make the internet a safer and better place for all. With that in mind, Under Age Sales is offering advice to retailers on how they ensure they are doing everything possible to ensure the safety of young people online when using their services.
While the web is a great channel for retailers to sell their goods, it also poses challenges around making sure they adhere to laws relating to selling age restricted products. Another obvious risk is children downloading or viewing adult content. The Digital Economy Bill, introduced last year, stated that pornographic websites will be made to verify the user is over 18 to enter, which will go some way to protecting young people from this content.
According to new research from Queen Mary University of London and City University London, between 77 and 83 per cent of adolescents are involved in some kind of gambling1, so there is clearly a need for children to be protected from the risks associated with this activity. Similar to gaming, which appeals as great fun for young people, gambling can cause addiction, users can sometimes be abusive to other gamblers/gamers and there is also a chance users could be exposed to risky behaviour. For example, adults with a sexual interest in children will encourage them to engage in inappropriate behaviour for rewards, to obtain cheats to progress within a game.
Playing your part
Retailers have a responsibility to enforce measures which prevent young people from accessing such products and services, safeguarding them from risk and danger.
Our advice to retailers would be to:
However, as this year’s Safer Internet Day campaign encourages, to truly protect young people online it is important that all responsible parties ‘unite for a better internet’. Only by parents, educators, retailers and the Government adopting a truly collaborative approach, will we will be able to make a real difference in ensuring the internet is a safe place for young people and children.