Parents are today being encouraged and empowered to support their children's online activities, especially around online gaming, on Safer Internet Day.
The UK's Safer Internet Centre is also encouraging internet users to think about the consequences of their online actions. Research shows that gaming is now more popular than social networking, with 83% of 9-16 year olds using the internet to play games.
While the Safer Internet Centre is highlighting the enjoyment that games can bring, there is a significant need for both parents and children to apply online safety thinking to games. Children can still face potential risks such as contact with strangers and exposure to inappropriate material in this environment,
The Safer Internet Centre is co-ordinating the UK's activities for Safer Internet Day in the UK. Safer Internet Day is supported by a wide range of partners, including Facebook and Microsoft and many schools, who are working in collaboration with the Safer Internet Centre. The theme for Safer Internet Day this year "Virtual Lives – It's More Than a Game; It's Your Life" focuses on gaming but has a wider relevance to social networking and wider internet use.
"Safer Internet Day is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness about using new technology safely and responsibly," said Will Gardner of the Safer Internet Centre. "This year we are raising the issue of online games. The same potential risks for children that we associate with internet use apply to games, and the message we are giving out to parents and carers, and to young people, is to know and remember the key internet safety messages when playing games."
Partners across the UK have been encouraged to promote their Safer Internet Day activities on the Safer Internet Centre website. Organisations involved include the BBC, 02 and CEOP as well as many schools across the country.
Leading events for the day are a young people's Symposium at Microsoft's London offices, hosted by the Safer Internet Centre where forty 15–18 year olds from across the UK will be inspired to think creatively about the internet safety needs of their age group, pitching their ideas for communicating their chosen key safety messages to their peers, to a panel of experts.
For the first time, Safer Internet Day is also organising a 12 hour interactive radio programme, bringing together a range of speakers including Facebook's Lord Richard Allan and Professor Tanya Byron to answer listeners' questions.
- Engage with the gaming environment and understand gaming (such as finding out what is so attractive and the types of activities they undertake).
- Talk to your children about the types of games they are playing.
- Ask them who they are playing with and whether they are chatting as part of the game.
- Remember that the same safety rules for surfing the net apply to playing games on the internet. Familiarise with the SMART rules, and encourage children and young people to do as well
For children: be familiar with the SMART rules
S – Safe. Do not give out personal information when chatting or posting online. Personal information includes your email address, phone number and password.
M – Meeting. Meeting someone one has only been in touch with online can be dangerous.
A – Accepting. Accepting emails, IM messages, or opening files, pictures or texts from people you don't know or trust can lead to problems – they may contain viruses or nasty messages!
R – Reliable. Someone online might lie about who they are and information on the internet may not be true. Always check information with other websites, books or someone who knows. If you like chatting online it's best to only chat to their real world friends and family
T – Tell. Tell your parent, carer or a trusted adult if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or worried, or if you or someone you know is being bullied online
Minister for Crime Prevention and Co-Chair of UKCCIS James Brokenshire:
"The Government takes the safety of children and young people online very seriously and is committed to working with the police, our partners and industry to make the internet a safer place. We support Safer Internet Day and the work of the new UK Safer Internet Centre, sharing the objective of reaching parents and children with messages on how to stay safe online.
"The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre's work is crucial to this and their work protecting children on off and online has seen over 620 children safeguarded, 417 suspected child sexual offenders apprehended and 262 sex offender networks dismantled.
"We want our children to have fun and enjoy the internet but they are also vulnerable to harmful or inappropriate content which is why it's important that parents talk to their children about staying safe online and encourage them to use the ClickCEOP button to report abuse or suspicious behaviour if they feel threatened."
Tim Loughton, Minister for Children & Families indicated:
"Whilst it is great that children and young people gain a lot of enjoyment from the internet and gaming, it is important that they and their parents are aware of the potential risks, and the possible exposure to inappropriate material. I am really pleased that Safer Internet Day is highlighting this issue."
"We are working with business and with parents to make sure children and young people are safe online. I am delighted that BSI have recently awarded the first Kitemark for parental control software to help give parents confidence that their children will be protected from harmful or inappropriate content on the internet. The UK Council for Child Internet Safety are also today publishing guidelines on keeping online environments safe for children. I warmly welcome this first step in industry self-regulation."
Richard Allan, Facebook's Director of Policy in Europe said:
"Safer Internet Day is a great opportunity for parents and children to come together and to talk about the best ways to stay safe online. Many people at Facebook work hard to make our service one of the safest places on the internet. As well as having links on nearly every page of the site to report content or to block others, Facebook also provides simple and powerful tools to help people to control how much information they share."
"To ensure people have the best possible experience on Facebook, we encourage everyone – young and old – to learn how to use these tools effectively. We provide lots of online safety information at www.facebook.com/safety, including specific advice or both parents and teenagers. And we post safety regular news and tips to www.facebook.com/fbsafety."
"Safety is a shared responsibility and we encourage parents to talk to their kids about how to stay safe online. We believe it's only by working together that we can educate young people to make smart decisions."
UK Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox said:
"As new users learn the many benefits of the web it is vital that they are also educated to use technology both safely and responsibly. Safer Internet Day is a great platform to shout about this message."
The UK Safer Internet Centre is part of a Europe-wide initiative co-funded by the European Commission. As a consortium of partners it raises awareness amongst children, their parents and carers about online safety issues. The UK Safe Internet Centre provides a broad range of tools and tips for children, parents, carers and teachers on how to use the internet safely and responsibly.
The UK Safer Internet Centre is formed by the South West Grid for Learning Trust, Childnet and IWF.
Safer Internet Day, now in its 8th year, is celebrated in over 65 countries. It recognises the importance of the Internet in the lives of children and young people, and helps ensure that they and those that support children, parents, carers, grandparents, teachers, know how to get the most out of the internet and use it safely and responsibly.
For more information on Safer Internet Day, please visit:
To listen to the Safer Internet Radio, please go to:
For press enquiries, interview requests and filming opportunities please contact
Phone: 020 3047 2333
Phone: 020 3047 2361
Phone: 020 3047 2076
1 EU Kids Online - Risks and Safety for Children on the Internet: the UK report, December 2010