Letter to Editor: Protecting Thurrock children from harm on social media

Dear Editor,

SOCIAL media is a great way for young people to stay in touch. But while it’s full of exciting things for children to explore, there are risks.

New research undertaken by the NSPCC, in partnership with O2, found that four out of five children feel that social media companies aren’t doing enough to protect them.

Our research clearly shows that many children do not feel that they are shielded from upsetting, dangerous, and adult content.

The findings are revealed by Net Aware, the UK’s only parents’ guide to 39 of the most popular social media sites, apps, and games used by young people, produced by the NSPCC and O2.

It’s vital parents know about their child’s online world and regularly talk with their children so that they keep in touch with what their child is exploring, and can take action to get help if they need it. Net Aware does all the work for parents by updating them with information, risks, and issues on sites their children are using.

Pokemon Go, Periscope, IMVU, and Live.ly are amongst the new apps to be featured on Net Aware, along with the more well-known sites including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.

Rather than trying to work out which app or online site is currently the most popular or hearing second hand about which site poses a risk, parents can turn to the Net Aware site for all the information, support, and advice they need to help keep their children safe online.

NSPCC trained “O2 Gurus” are also giving advice across Essex about how to keep children safe on social media.

During the pre-booked session the O2 Guru, can explain how to set up parental controls on phones, tablets and PCs as well as how to make devices safer for a child to use. Parents can book an appointment in their nearest O2 shop in Essex by visiting http://guru.force.com/O2DeskStoreLocator

The Net Aware guide is free to access at www.net-aware.org.uk or to download as an app from the Apple Store or Google Play.

By Colin Peak, NSPCC Regional Head of Service for East of England

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