The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present challenges for safeguarding professionals and parents across the UK. We asked you what your concerns are in relation to keeping young people and children in your care safe online during this time.

It is clear young people are spending more and more time online, exposing themselves to higher levels of risk. The results of the survey show there is an ever increasing need to understand how young people engage with online platforms and implement ways in which we can keep them safe.

Thanks to everyone who responded. Your responses will be used to improve the quality and delivery of our safeguarding information and inform what you need to know.

Here are some of the highlights:

of respondents use social media, which is higher than the national average of 66%.

of you have expressed concern over the impact of the pandemic on young people’s mental health.

  • This reflects results from a survey completed by a leading young person’s mental health charity: Young Minds. Their research also found that 67% of parents and carers are concerned over the mental health of children in their care. 

of you were more concerned about online safety of children during the lockdown.

  • Similar concerns were identified in Ofcom’s 2020 report which found that 81% of 12-15 year-olds say they have had a potentially harmful experience online in the past year and;
  • 30% of 12-15 year olds identify social media as a source of potential harm that they have experienced, followed by email (13%), instant messengers (12%) and video-sharing sites (8%).

Your biggest concerns in relation to online safety were engaging with a stranger online and screen time, followed by excessive gaming and cyberbullying.

  • Ofcom’s 2020 report found that 59% of 5-15 year olds play games in the UK. Most children have access to a mobile device, which is where 23% of games are now played. 
  • Even though many are aware of online safety risks, most (57%) 12-15-year olds agree the internet makes children’s lives better and most (66%) adults agree the benefits of going online outweigh the risks according to Ofcom’s 2020 report.

When asked where you access online safety information, over a third of respondents said the Safer Schools App.

What can you do?

To support you with your concerns around safeguarding online for young people, we advise that you take the following steps:

  • Educate yourself by accessing social media and online platforms, and keeping up to date with security and privacy settings. Sign up to our Safeguarding Hub email, check out our Back to Basics Webinar Series and access our Safety Centre. We can then keep you up to date with the latest safeguarding developments.  Online platforms change on a daily basis so let us do the hard work for you and bring you the information you need to know!
  • Educate young people and ensure they are aware of how they should engage online in relation to how they and others should behave and how to activate safety settings. We have some learning resources for both parents, carers and teachers to use on our Home Learning Hub and Teach Hub.
  • Engage in conversations with young people and children in your care about online risks. Watch our video giving you top tips on how to do this safely without causing concern.
  • Feedback to us at [email protected] on topics of concern so we can continue to bring you the information you need.

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Creative Activity Pack

As the lockdown begins to ease, we could all benefit from less screen time, give children in your care the opportunity to get away from screens and get creative.

Visit the Home Learning Hub!

The Home Learning Hub is our free library of resources to support parents and carers who are taking the time to help their children be safer online.

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