The internet, once a wide-eyed frontier of possibilities, has become a sprawling jungle for our kids. Between the buzzing social media hives and the tangled undergrowth of anonymous forums, lurks a complex ecosystem of risks and rewards. As parents, it's our job to equip our young explorers with the tools and instincts they need to navigate this vast digital landscape safely and confidently.
Let's face it, keeping one step ahead of the ever-evolving online world can feel like chasing butterflies on roller skates. Recent research indicates that UK parents are most concerned about the following regarding their children's experiences online:
94% of UK parents believe big tech platforms do not have their children's interests in mind when creating products.
71% of UK parents worry about their children accessing inappropriate content online.
53% are concerned about online predators targeting their children.
46% fear cyberbullying and its impact on their children's mental health.
54% have concerns about data tracking practices aimed at children.
66% fear commerce-related risks - financial sextortion, bill shock, fraud, money muling
31% believe the internet is inherently unsafe for children altogether.
But fear not, intrepid guardians! New laws are emerging including, for example, the Online Safety Act adopted in the UK and similar in Australia and Ireland and the Digital Services Act in Europe, that hold digital platforms accountable for the safety of children and young people online. These laws mandate companies to prioritise children's well-being over profits, by adhering to Safety by Design principles and finally giving vulnerable users the protection they deserve.
Think back to the playground of yesteryear. A towering slide, promising exhilaration but also harbouring danger. Children tumbled, bones rattled, and cries echoed. Then came health and safety regulations, mandating equipment manufacturers to design slides for children in different age bands, lower heights for toddlers and so on. Local councils installed playgrounds and were obliged to adhere to laws about using e.g. bouncy tar-macadam underneath swings and slides to cushion falls with soft landings. Laws transformed physical spaces, and now it's the digital world's turn.
Social media and gaming platforms must conduct age-checks on users and build safer digital playgrounds for our youngsters. Just as regulations tamed hazardous slides, these new laws will shape a responsible online landscape where children can explore with less fear and more fun. Children have rights to exciting, educational, fun online environments that allow them to play, learn and explore in age appropriate environments.
As parents you can hold companies to account and take part in consultations run by regulators for example - https://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations-and-statements/category-1/protecting-people-from-illegal-content-online
There is a network of Online Safety Regulators worldwide that are joining forces and as parents your feedback is most welcome.
The era of unchecked power is over. Companies can no longer create online environments that endanger children, regardless of parental concerns. It's time to take a stand!
Collectively raise your voices and join a global movement for change, backed by new laws that prioritise child safety online.
Our youth are leading the charge. Initiatives like the "Design it for Us" campaign empower them to speak up and make their needs heard. Get your children involved! Let them be part of shaping a safer, more responsible online world.
Here's how you can contribute:
Join advocacy groups: Stand alongside others who share your concerns and push for stricter regulations.
Contact your representatives: Make your voice heard by lawmakers who can enact change.
Educate yourself and others: Stay informed about online safety issues and share your knowledge with others.
Empower your children: Give them the tools and confidence to navigate the digital
Together, we can dismantle the power imbalance and create a thriving online landscape where all children are protected.
Learn more about how TrustElevate can help parents navigate the world of online safety. Visit https://www.trustelevate.com/safety-children for more information.