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Teens have their say about online safety

Research published this week saw children and young people call for ‘the right to feel safe’ online and accept their own responsibility for viewing films and TV legally on the internet.

Date 07/02/2013

A survey of over 24,000 young people showed over a third of young people have come in to contact with content online that upsets or worries them. Seeing unpleasant or hurtful things online affects a sizeable portion of this group: 27% of 7-11 year olds and 41% of 11-19 year olds said they came into contact with something online in the last twelve months that they deemed to be hurtful or unpleasant, examples cited include: scary videos, pictures and chainmail; ‘rude’ things and swearing; violent films or games.

The ‘Have Your Say’ research, commissioned by the UK Safer Internet Centre to mark the 10th Anniversary of Safer Internet Day on 5 February 2013, asked primary school pupils (aged 7-11) and secondary school pupils (aged 11-19) what they enjoy most about the internet, as well as the aspects of being online that they find concerning. The research highlights where children already play a role in enjoying the internet safely and responsibly and uncovers opportunities to provide them with greater support.

BBFC Assistant Director David Austin took part in an interview as part of Safer Internet Day radio, a 12-hour radio broadcast produced by the UK Safer Internet Centre and hosted on their website throughout Safer Internet Day, to help listeners share their inspiring stories and words of advice around popular online safety issues. David Austin talked about downloading films, the BBFC’s education resources and the importance of clear age ratings and how the BBFC provides information about age ratings online and on their App for iPhone and Android devices. The interview is available at the end of this article.

The UK Safer Internet Centre, which co-ordinates Safer Internet Day in the UK, has also launched a number of online resources for teachers, parents and carers, which are available to access for free from the UK Safer Internet Centre website. They include the ‘Connect with Respect Quiz’, a resource to help families test their internet safety know-how. The online quiz covers being safe, responsible and respectful on social networks, online entertainment sites, gaming sites and mobiles. It provides users with an Internet Safety score and top tips on how to discover the digital world safely and responsibly

Liz Bales, Director General of the Industry Trust for IP Awareness, a key partner for the BBFC said:  “Our own research shows that many children and parents are confused about whether the content they are accessing is legal or not, and are concerned about the associated safety and security risks of using unofficial websites. We’re delighted to be supporting Safer Internet Day through the Connect With Respect Quiz, which aims to tackle this confusion by directing families to a wealth of convenient and affordable official services for great film, TV and video at the click of a button.”

Children and young people filling in the survey were presented with a number of rights and responsibilities, and asked to vote on the ones they felt were most important to them. This produced the top ten Rights and Responsibilities Charters for primary and secondary school pupils, which represent the views of children and young people across the country.

In order to explore the survey’s findings the results have been discussed in targeted focus groups with 90 young people from across the UK.

The Rights and Responsibilities Charter for secondary students noted access to films and TV online as their third most important concern, whilst acknowledging they had to take responsibility to view legally by respecting copyright laws.

Here is the full Online Rights and Responsibilities Charter, as chosen by secondary school students:
1. I should feel safe online
2. I should not be bullied online, and should not bully others
3. I should be able to access films, music and TV online, but it is my responsibility to respect copyright law
4. I should support my friends if they need help online
5. I shouldn’t have to see unpleasant or hurtful content and I should know what to do if I come across it
6. There should be lots of websites that are interesting for people my age
7. I should be able to manage who can see the content I post online
8. The websites I use should have an easy and effective way of reporting
9. I should know what I can and can’t do online and understand that there are legal and offline consequences
10. I should be educated about staying safe online

The Primary Online Rights and Responsibilities Charter yields similar views from younger online users:
1. I should feel safe and enjoy being on the internet
2. I should be able to tell someone if something has worried me on the internet
3. I should not be bullied on the internet, and should not bully others
4. I should help my friends stay safe on the internet
5. I should be able to report anything that worries me on the internet
6. I should be able to talk and play on the internet with my friends
7. I shouldn’t have to see unpleasant or hurtful things on the internet
8. I should know how to keep my personal information safe
9. I should be able to easily search the internet for information
10. I should learn how to stay safe on the internet

In response to the research results, Will Gardner, Chief Spokesperson for the UK Safer Internet Centre, said: “In our research young people clearly stated that they should have the right to feel safe online and they also recognise they have a responsibility in helping themselves and others be safe online, whether that's behaving kindly towards others or helping friends who are experiencing problems. 

“We are delighted that so many young people have taken the opportunity of the survey to get their voice heard, and we hope it will act as a catalyst for encouraging individuals, families and companies to think about their role in ensuring the Internet is a great and safe place for children.”

The UK Safer Internet Centre is online at www.saferinternet.org.uk.
 

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