The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) recently reported that every 2 minutes they remove a photo online of a child suffering sexual abuse and that in 2022 over 252,000 webpages containing hundreds of thousands of images and videos of children suffering sexual abuse were assessed and removed from the internet by their analysts. 97% of the imagery is of girls and almost 7 in 10 cases of child sexual abuse and 11 – 13 year olds were involved. It’s not just this age group, the IWF also report that the younger the child, the more severe the abuse and over 1,400 reports were confirmed to show children under the age of 2 suffering sexual abuse.
It’s hard to keep up with the changes in technology and this is crucial if we are going to be able to safeguard our children on the internet. Recently, I was lucky enough to find out about the latest variety of apps and online platforms so read on for an explanation about each and the risks to children:
Free online chatroom advertised as a platform where you can “chat with random strangers online”. Omegle pairs users at random allowing them to chat via video or chat. There is no registration process or age verification. The website is identified as a hotspot for grooming children of all ages and investigations have found sexually explicit videos and live streams involving minors as young as 7 or 8.
What is Omegle? What parents need to know | Internet Matters
Combination app used in conjunction with Snapchat and Instagram where followers can anonymously respond to private messages. The App costs £8.99 and encourages its users to spend money. Anonymous apps leave children more open to cyberbullying, child-on-child abuse and grooming. Due to being anonymous it is harder to identify perpetrators.What is the Sendit app? The risks of companion apps | Internet Matters
Roblox can be a safe gaming platform for children of all ages however it also has a dark side which is often hidden. Some of the risks in relation to Roblox include; unknown adults using the chat room to contact children for the purposes of grooming, exposed to sexualised avatars, inappropriate language being bypassed and used within the game.Parent Alert: Is Roblox Safe for Kids? Watch Out for These 4 Dangers | Defend Young Minds™️
Gaming addiction is now recognised by the World Health Organisation as a clinical disorder. There’s are increasing concerns around children as young as 8 developing addictions to pornography hugely impacting psychological and developmental well-being. Pornography and inappropriate content online is only a click away.
Please share the above information with your parents and staff, together with these top tips:
- Be curious about what your child does online. If your child uses Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok or any other social media platforms, there is a chance they also use third party companion apps.
- Monitor use of social media. Have set times where your child is allowed to use their phone or electronic device.
- Check browsing history on devices.
- Play together, help set healthy limits. Actively find a variety of activities for children to consume online.
- Ensure parental controls are active and up to date.
- Parental controls offered by your home internet provider – UK Safer Internet Centre
- Parental controls – UK Safer Internet Centre
- UK Safer Internet Centre – Live Streaming