A Derry-based NSPCC representative has called on local parents to ensure they talk to their children about online safety as a new ‘Share Aware’ campaign is launched.
Margaret Gallagher, Local Campaigns Manager with NSPCC NI, said parents are the first point of call for a child when it comes to staying safe in real life and this is no different when it comes to their online life.
The new ‘Share Aware’ campaign has been launched and follows recent research from Childline for Northern Ireland which revealed that in 2015/16 the free helpline carried out 164 counselling sessions with children about online sexual abuse.
Children were counselled on issues including sexting, being made to perform sex acts on webcam and viewing distressing sexually explicit content.
In the same year, 318 counselling sessions with children from Northern Ireland were carried out because of bullying which includes online bullying.
Margaret Gallagher said: “Talking to your child and exploring their online world with them is the best way to keep them safe but it can be hard to keep up to speed with the internet and some topics can feel more difficult than others.
“Share Aware can help by giving parents the tools and confidence to have regular and informed chats with their child so they can get the best out of the internet.”
Comedian and TV star Catherine Tate is backing the new NSPCC and O2 campaign urging parents to make online safety as high a priority for their children as road safety.
The campaign comes as a survey of parents of eight to 13-year-olds finds only 19 per cent are frequently discussing the topic with their children.
The finding also revealed that just 17 per cent of parents talk to their children about changing the settings on the apps and sites they use.
Experts state that this could leave children vulnerable to being targeted by online abusers.
A new animation ‘Safety advice from a 10 year-old’ featuring the voice of Catherine Tate has been created especially for Share Aware. Resources for parents to support them to become experts in their child’s online world include conversation starters and help creating family agreements, and are available at www.nspcc.org.uk/shareaware.