Tackling cyberbullying: an interview with Childnet

Here at loveit coverit, we’ve been looking at how smartphones are changing the world, starting with the impact they have on children. We’ve been working on an in-depth research project in collaboration with schools, charities, psychologists and governing bodies into the effects these devices are having on our younger generation, particularly with regards to education, mental health and online safety.

We sat down with Childnet to get their insights on dealing with cyberbulling.  

Childnet is a charity with the aim of making the internet a great and safe place for children and young people. They work directly with children and young people from the ages of 3 to 18 on a weekly basis, as well as parents, carers, teachers and professionals, finding out about their real experiences online, and the positive things they are doing as well as sharing safety advice.

Thanks for talking with us Maithreyi, just how much of a problem is cyberbullying?

The internet is an amazing resource and can be used in a number of positive ways. However, some people use technology to carry out harmful actions, including cyberbullying. Being a victim of cyberbullying can be very distressing for a young person and can include things such as sending nasty messages, images or videos, excluding others from messaging apps, or ‘hacking into someone elses’s social media account and pretending to be them. The bullying has the potential to be happening 24/7 and the victim is often targeted even when they are in the comfort of their own home. When messages and embarrassing photos are shared online and not directly to the person, there are often lots of bystanders and victims can be very upset to see how quickly an embarrassing image or rumour can circulate online.

Do you feel that authorities like schools, parents, government and police accurately equip people with the right information about cyber bullying and the abuse of technology? If not, what more do you think needs to be done.

We can all always do more to equip people with the right information about cyberbullying and the abuse of technology. It is everyone’s responsibility to support children and young people to use the internet safely, responsibly and respectfully. This includes schools, parents, government, police and industry. We believe in working collaboratively so that we can all come together to hear directly from young people about their experiences of technology and how we can help them if something goes wrong.

Safer Internet Day is a fantastic way to promote the safe and positive use of digital technology for children and young people and inspire a national conversation. As a partner in the UK Safer Internet Centre, we coordinate Safer Internet Day each year in the UK. In 2018, we saw over 1700 organisations support the day and get involved to help create a better internet. Collectively we reached 45% of young people and 30% of parents, with 80% of young people saying they felt more confident about what to do if they were worried about something online.

Tell us more about Safer Internet Day and how people can get involved

The next Safer Internet Day will take place on Tuesday 5th February 2019 with the theme ‘Together for a better internet’. Everyone can get involved at www.saferinternetday.org.uk.

At Childnet we also have some helpful resources for schools, parents and other professionals to help understand, prevent and respond to cyberbullying:

Hot Topic for Parents and Carers on Cyberbullying with tips

Crossing the Line PSHE Toolkit – a practical online safety toolkit on cyberbullying, sexting, peer pressure and self-esteem with films and lessons plans.

Cyberbullying Guidance for schools

Smartie the Penguin – an online safety story for 3 to 7 year olds which covers cyberbullying.

How do you make yourselves accessible to young people?

Young people’s voices are really important when raising awareness about online safety issues. This is why we decided to set up the Digital Leaders Programme in 2015 which aims to empower young people to become internet safety role models within their schools and to educate their peers, parents and teachers about staying safe online. The programme offers pupils structured online training and ongoing support from Childnet’s expert team, making online safety learning fun and effective. It also helps schools work towards an outstanding whole school community approach to keeping everyone safe online. Since starting we have engaged 4500 young people across the UK through our online platform.

Thanks Maitheryi. To find out more about our project, head to our Do Smartphones Steal Childhoods? homepage.

 

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