NCA Launches Online Safety Cartoons for Kids

child using a laptop / child online safety

The videos try to teach children aged four to seven about how best to keep themselves safe online. 

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has launched a series of videos titled Jessie & Friends to help educate children about how to protect themselves online, with a focus on safeguarding them from sexual abuse and other online threats.

Children will be directed to the videos via links on social media, which will consist of teaser clips with ‘a catchy song’.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), a charity that campaigns to protect children in the UK and Channel Islands, has welcomed the new videos, calling their creation “a positive step”.

Featuring three animated children, Jessie & Friends follows the trio as they explore online videos, social media, and the potential dangers.

In the first episode, Jessie watches a seemingly benign video featuring a happy crocodile, but the video takes a sudden turn and the reptile becomes an angry version of the creature.

Another episode shows the children joined in an online game by a seemingly helpful stranger who then tricks them into losing.

Recommended: Aberdeen School Pupils Learn About Cyber Safety

According to research by Ofcom, the majority of British three to four-year-olds have access to and use the internet. This means these young children could have access to platforms, such as YouTube, which are known to proliferate potentially disturbing content.

Figures from 2018 revealed that 25% of parents were increasingly worried about their children giving out details to inappropriate people online – a rise of 18% from the previous year.

In a statement the NCA said: “Investigators are seeing a very disturbing change in offender behaviour, with the increasing contact abuse of pre-verbal and very young children.”

NCA director, Rob Jones spoke of the need for parents, careers and teachers to be able to discuss online safety with children in a positive and sensible way.

Will Gardner, chief executive of Childnet, said that Jessie & Friends made it easier to do this, adding: “It is a very useful way for parents to get that conversation started.

“It’s really aimed at parents – this is a tool for you to use to get that conversation going with your children.”

While the NSPCC’s associate head of child safety online, Andy Burrows, welcomed the move he added that tech giants needed to take more responsibility for protecting children.

The NSPCC is urging the UK Government to appoint an independent regulator with the authority to punish social networks and online services that fail to protect children online.

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