he media regularly reports on the dangers that await children online. From the risks involved in talking to strangers to the potentially toxic allure of pro-eating disorder websites, it seems as though stories of children running into trouble on the internet are everywhere. If you work in certain job sectors, namely those that involve working with children or in digital media, you should take the time to educate yourself as to the key issues involved. In this article, we will examine what you need to know about child internet safety and how it can benefit your career progression.
Working with Children
If you work with children in a professional capacity, for example as a teacher or as a psychotherapist specialising in the treatment of children and adolescents, a working knowledge of child internet safety is an essential part of your commitment to ongoing professional development.
If you work as a teacher, one of your professional duties is to safeguard children from harm. This includes not only harm they may suffer during school hours, but risks incurred at other times. You need to be aware that children can suffer bullying or online harassment at almost any time, and that this can have a detrimental effect not only on their academic performance, but also their overall wellbeing.
If you do not personally use the internet on a frequent basis, you may feel reluctant to spend time learning about the activities popular with young people. You might even feel as though the favoured websites, applications and jargon of a generation many years younger is irrelevant to your life or is beyond your comprehension.
The good news is that there are many books and websites that clearly lay out the most common pitfalls that await children and teenagers online, together with practical steps you can take in encouraging young people to stay safe online. These include issues such as the safe use of social media, online grooming and abuse, the dangers of radical and extreme material, internet abuse, internet addiction and young peoples’ consumption of pornography.
Keeping up-to-date with child internet safety issues doesn’t just mean you will be able to protect children and young people from harm.
It also demonstrates to your employer that you are keen to play a role in tackling cyber bullying, grooming, online abuse and radicalisation within your organisation. This could make a difference to your chances when it comes to being considered for promotion or the addition of extra responsibilities to your job profile.
If your organisation does not seem to offer training on child internet safety issues as part of its regular programme of staff development, approach a senior-level manager and ask them whether this is likely to change in the foreseeable future.
Tell them that staff should hold an understanding of child internet safety not only for the sake of individual young people, but also for the performance and reputation of the organisation as a whole.
An instance of severe cyber-bullying can warrant a mention in the local press, for example, and this can have a detrimental effect for a school. Offer to take a proactive approach in investigating training options.
Media Careers and Child Internet Safety
Those working in the media also need to be mindful of child internet safety. If you produce games, articles or any content likely to attract the attention of children or teenagers, it is sensible both from a moral and career perspective to show that you are considering the needs of your youngest consumers.
For example, if you are designing a website that is designed in such a way that young teenagers are likely to visit and share the content with their friends, you need to ask whether the content and functionality of your service are age-appropriate.
Check that your organisation has policies in place regarding how and when you market to various age groups.
When publishing online content, be clear on exactly who you are targeting then consider whether the messages contained within your content represent your organisation in a positive light.
What kind of measures could you put in place in order to attract the most audience? In conclusion, it is essential that anyone working with children and teenagers have a good understanding of the ways in which young people use the internet and how they can find themselves in danger.
Furthermore, people working in digital media also need to have a working knowledge of how children access online content which may or may not be appropriate to their age and developmental stage. When you are willing and able to demonstrate that you appreciate the risks young people face and the need to help them move around the internet in safety, you show your employers that you have a good grasp of current social issues.
Possessing this kind of knowledge also makes you an asset to your organisation, as a proactive approach to child internet safety may reduce liability and enhance the organisation’s reputation as being family-friendly.
If you would like to find out more about child internet safety online Child Internet Safety course
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