The Culture Department is set to launch a fresh offensive on the ‘host of new dangers’ that young people face online. In a press release published today, Culture Secretary Karen Bradley announced the ‘Internet Safety Strategy’, slated to be laid out fully in a green paper next summer.
The new campaign, led by MP Bradley, forms a core component of the Government’s bid to transform the UK into the, “safest place in the world for young people to go online”. As such, the initiative will specifically target alleged breeding-grounds of cyberbullying, abuse, and pornography online.
Karen Bradley outlined the purpose of the campaign, explaining: “The internet has provided young people with amazing opportunities but has also introduced a host of new dangers which children and parents have never faced before.”
“It is increasingly clear that some behaviours which are unacceptable offline are being tolerated or even encouraged online – sometimes with devastating consequences. We are determined to make Britain the safest place in the world to be online, and to help people protect themselves from the risks they might face.”
A report has also been commissioned to provide up-to-date evidence of how young people are using the internet and existing gaps in protection. The analysis will be directed by Professor of Social Psychology Sonia Livingstone, Professor of Criminology Julia Davidson and Senior Lecturer in Psychology Dr. Jo Bryce, on behalf of the UK’s Council for Internet Safety (UKCCIS) Evidence Group.
Work on the green paper and report is expected to centre on four main priorities, namely: how to help young people help themselves; helping parents understand online dangers and face them with their children; industry responsibilities to society; and how tech can provide the solutions.
A number of round tables over the next few weeks, held with social media companies, technology firms, charities, mental health organisations and young people will discuss similar issues. These round tables are also expected to host ministers from the Home Office, Department for Education, Department of Health and Ministry of Justice.
MP Bradley said: “We want to understand the full scale of the problem and explore how everyone – including Government, social media companies, technology firms, parents and others – can play their part in tackling it.”
A recent poll found that more parents are concerned with their children sexting than about their children drinking or smoking. The YouGov survey was conducted for the Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Association, and showed that 78% of parents were either fairly or very concerned about sexting, compared to 69% who were concerned about alcohol abuse, and 67% who were concerned about smoking.