Safer Internet Day 2022, an event aimed at creating a national conversation about using technology responsibly, respectfully, critically, and creatively.
Ofcom is a supporter of the day, which was established in 2004 and is coordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre, Childnet, Internet Watch Foundation and South West Grid for Learning.
This year, the theme is All fun and games? Exploring respect and relationships online. It explores the interactive online entertainment and gaming communities that children are part of. The day challenges them to foster supportive relationships and respectful communities, while equipping them with the skills they need to keep themselves and others safe in these spaces.
Safer Internet Day has heard from young people about safety concerns when they’re using these these spaces, as well as problems young people have been navigating for some time, particularly the lack of respect individuals display towards each other, groups ‘ganging up’ against other groups, and the sense that it is easy to ‘get away’ with negative behaviour such as meanness, bullying and swearing.
They also speak about hate directed at particular groups, particularly LGBT+ users, and misogyny on gaming platforms. Respondents also feel that the apparent lack of consequences for negative behaviour has an impact on their safety and wellbeing.
Why is Ofcom supporting Safer Internet Day?
Ofcom has long supported Safer Internet Day – because it’s such an important annual milestone in keeping the conversation about children’s online safety alive. It’s wonderful to see so many schools, businesses and communities joining Ofcom in supporting it – over 1,600 and counting in fact!
Pretty much all children go online today to link-up, laugh and learn with their friends. Whether that’s watching their favourite YouTubers, playing Roblox or Minecraft, or for older children, making TikTok videos or using gaming platforms like Twitch. And for the most part they have a great time doing so.
But children also tell us that, from time to time, being online isn’t always the best experience. Some, for example, say they’ve been bullied or ganged up on online, or seen hateful content and offensive language.
Ofcom want children to enjoy their time exploring the online world, while being better protected from harm
That’s why the tips and resources from Safer Internet Day are designed to help children to shape safer and more respectful virtual communities – and give them the best advice on what to do if they see something that troubles them.
As part of the support for Safer Internet Day, Ofcom’s Chief Executive Melanie Dawes visited St John’s and St Clement’s Primary School in south east London to find out from pupils how they would like us to help keep them safe online.
What is Ofcom’s role in online safety?
Ofcom has a role in helping to keep people safe online. They are already responsible for keeping social video platforms like TikTok, Snapchat and Twitch in check, to make sure they’re taking steps to protect their users. In addition, the UK Government has also drawn up new online safety laws, which will be debated in Parliament in the coming months. These proposed laws would give Ofcom broader powers to make sure tech firms take the right action to protect users – and they would be able to fine them if they don’t.
This law will apply to the many of the sites and apps that we use every day including social media, search engines, and messaging platforms. It’s all about creating a safer life online for everyone – Ofcom want children to enjoy their time exploring the online world, while being better protected from harm.
The Safer Internet Day website (www.saferinternetday.org) has more information on the initiative, as well as lots of information and resources that you might find useful.
Source: Office of Communications (Ofcom)