The UK charity NSPCC warns of e-safety ‘timebomb’

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), a charity specialising in child protection, has recently noted the increasing danger of Internet safety for children and teens. This uniquely modern threat has now been cited as one of the primary issues faced by young people today.

The dangers inherent in children being online come in two basic forms: online predators and cyber bullying.

The charity’s concern comes via both focus groups carried out with young people and their own service, ChildLine—a free, 24-hour counselling service for kids and teens. The call centre, which is staffed by hundreds of volunteers and handles hundreds of thousands of calls a year, has noted the dramatic increase in calls about Internet and mobile bullying and abuse.

As Claire Lilley, NSPCC’s Safer Technology Lead, points out, this is the first generation that has not known a world without the Internet or mobile phones. The kind of issues young people face as a result of the digital world they live in—and as they spend more and more time online—is categorically different than that which adults can conceptualise.

While noting the tremendous educational benefits of technology, Lilley also urged people to appreciate the scope of issues it created and the magnitude of the problems involved:

“Young people tell us they are experiencing all sorts of new forms of abuse on a scale never before seen. It’s now clear that we are facing an e-safety timebomb with this being one of the biggest child protection issues of our time.”

The NSPCC urges parents and educators to be more aware of what kids and students are facing online and on their mobiles, who they are talking to, and engage in dialogue with them about their digital lives. The charity is also calling for age-appropriate lessons about net safety to be held in all schools from primary age.

To learn more about NSPCC, cyber bullying, or advice about Internet safety, visit: http://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/