Today, understanding internet safety is as important as being able to safely cross the road. As technology develops and criminals look for ever more cunning ways to con, defraud and terrorise vulnerable people, trading standards are working increasingly harder to protect consumers and businesses online. Mike Crockart MP explains why he supports Safer Internet Day 2015, and what he hopes can be achieved through it.
The internet is a fantastic tool and its birth and exponential growth during my lifetime has been astonishing. With a few clicks you are able to access almost anything you want from anywhere in the world and the potential for the future is mind-blowing.
However, while the internet is a fantastic resource it can also be a very dangerous place, especially for children. As the father to an eight year old son, this is something of which I am all too aware.
Children are introduced to the internet from a very young age and my son is no different. He can confidently navigate the internet and regularly plays on his tablet and other devices at home. However, issues such as online bullying, grooming and accessing inappropriate content are big concerns for parents like me.
Not only do children use the internet at home, but it plays a big role in the school curriculum. I can now even log into the school’s system to get feedback each week on how he’s doing. It is vital that young people are taught how to use computers and the internet in order to be successful in later life, however, I am acutely aware of how easy it is for anyone to click on the wrong link or button online and suddenly find that they have accessed inappropriate content or have put themselves at risk. Some people will realise their mistake, however for young children or others who are not confident using the internet navigating, safe and unsafe content can be a complete minefield.
While trading standards officers do a brilliant job and work tirelessly to educate people about the risks of the internet, this work can only go so far and ultimately it is up to individuals to make sure that they are aware of how to keep themselves and their families safe online.
That is why I am proud to support Safer Internet Day 2015 which will be celebrated in over a hundred countries on Tuesday 10 February. The purpose of Safer Internet Day is to highlight the positive uses of technology and to explore the role we play in helping to create a better and safer online community. It calls upon young people, parents, carers, teachers, social workers, law enforcement, companies, policymakers, and wider, to join together in helping to create a better internet.
Last year, Safer Internet Day was celebrated by 650 organisations across the UK such as schools and search engines and managed to reach 25% of children, 18% of teenagers and 10% of parents and more than half of these said that they would change their online behaviour as a result of the day.
There are a number of ways to take part in Safer Internet Day and taking part does not have to take a lot of time or effort. UK Safer Internet Centre has provided a wealth of free resources online and you can take part by doing something as simple as taking a quiz online.
However you decide to take part, ultimately it is up to us to create a better and safer internet for current and future generations and I hope that you will take this opportunity to join with me in celebrating Safer Internet Day 2015 on the 10 February.