In our increasingly digital world, keeping children safe online is of vital importance.
The internet and social media have transformed the way organisations communicate. They present brilliant opportunities to connect with children and young people – but with those opportunities comes responsibility.
Here’s our advice to organisations for keeping children safe online.
The importance of keeping children safe online
Organisations have a duty to create a safe online environment for any children and young people they work with, and to ensure that all their online communications are appropriate.
If used inappropriately, the internet and social media can pose a potential safeguarding risk to children, which could lead to abuse.
Promoting online safety throughout your organisation
Keeping children safe online should be part of your organisation’s wider commitment to safeguarding.
Any organisation that works with children and young people should have an online safety policy in place. This policy should set out your commitment to keeping children safe online, as well your expectations about how children should use the internet safely within your organisation.
All staff should know how to recognise online abuse. Your safeguarding policy should set out the procedures to follow when reporting a concern, and all staff should be aware of this.
Thinkuknow, the education programme run by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command, runs a number of e-safety training courses for professionals who work with children and young people.
How to communicate with children online
If your organisation communicates with children online, it’s absolutely vital to make sure those communications are safe and appropriate.
You should ensure that you and your staff:
- Never use personal email or social media accounts to communicate with children – always use organisational accounts.
- Conduct any communications with children through an organisational device, rather than a personal phone or tablet.
- Always use age-appropriate language to communicate with children.
- Only communicate with children about things that are relevant to the work you’re doing with them.
- Always ask children and parents/carers before taking or sharing photos of them
- Have a good understanding of the different social media platforms, including how they work and what their age limits are.
Making sure devices are safe
If your organisation has computers, tablets or other devices that are available for children to use, you should make sure they are as safe as possible.
- All devices have appropriate parental controls turned on.
- Children use devices in an open area where their online activity can be observed – particularly if they’re using live streaming services.
Keeping children safe online
Keeping children safe is everybody’s responsibility, and it’s crucial that we do everything in our power to protect children online as well as offline.