The vast majority of adults in the UK are computer literate and own a mobile phone, providing them with almost unlimited access to information and the ability to keep in touch around the globe.
This is also true for children and young people for whom the internet has rapidly become an essential tool for learning, communication, self-expression and forming personal identity. Online safety is all about equipping users to understand the risks and protect themselves online.
In a culture where there is a seamless connection between online and offline, many teenagers document their whole lives via social networking, making the everyday topical. This can be motivational and is certainly influential, but critics question the value of living life in the public gaze, concerned that showcasing like this blurs the lines between real life and fantasy and puts additional pressure on children as they try to live up to the glossy lives they follow online.
Alongside the benefits of access to information and friendship 24/7 there is a darker side to the digital world, defined as ‘cyberbullying’. This is where technology is misused to threaten, harass, humiliate or embarrass. As access to digital communication grows, methods of cyberbullying have become more sophisticated.
From nuisance texts to bogus websites, anyone can be targeted with little effort and minimal cost to the bully, leading to national concerns.
It is therefore important that foster carers, along with schools, social workers etc, have the knowledge, skills and confidence to educate children and young people about the risks and responsibilities of internet use so that they develop the online literacy skills to enjoy the benefits of digital technology safely.
Access this course as part of the following online course package(s):