Tuesday 6th February 2024 marks Safer Internet Day and Aberdeen based social enterprise, Cybersafe Scotland, is asking everyone in the North East to work together to help protect children online.
Cybersafe Scotland has been working in partnership with Aberdeen City Council, to support several city schools with their digital safety through understanding children’s experiences of online abuse, exploitation and harassment and helping to support them in making the online space safer.
In Scotland alone, there was a 511% increase in reports of online offending targeting children between 2015 and 2021, and so the importance of doing this has never been greater.
As adults we are often not in the same online spaces as our children, and we have a duty to listen to and understand what they are experiencing. But we also have a duty to ensure positive change comes from these experiences.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child says that every child has the right to express their views, feelings and wishes in all matters affecting them, and to have their views considered and taken seriously.
As part of the Respected and Safe project Cybersafe have been working with children in Aberdeen to understand what they would like to change online to keep them safer. The key issues they’ve said they’d like help with are more conversations with their families and other adults about their online experiences, less unwanted contact with people they don’t know, and safer games and apps.
Cybersafe will be spending Safer Internet Day delivering live lessons to schools in the region helping them understand how they can help bring about the changes they want to see and is encouraging adults to think about how they can support children to make the online space safer.
Annabel Turner, Director, Cybersafe Scotland says : “Adults often feel that children don’t want them involved in their digital spaces, but actually the opposite is true. Children and young people recognise that they want adults involved and that they need the help and support of adults to change things that are unsafe in those spaces, and that support is needed more than ever at the moment.
“We are so grateful to have the opportunity to support children and families through the project.”
Lucy Simpson, Aberdeen Violence Against Women Partnership says “The work that Cybersafe has been doing in our local schools has been vital for educating and empowering children to be vigilant and aware of the risks in online spaces. Early intervention is key to promoting responsible online behaviour to ensure that our young people feel safe and respected from the associated online harms as well as giving students the ability to develop empathy and critical thinking skills.”
Find out more about the work of Cybersafe Scotland at cybersafescotland.org