online safety

No loving parent would dream of opening their doors to a sex offender hell-bent on manipulating and exploiting their child but with the increasing availability and use of modern technology, a parents' ignorance could inadvertently do just that.
Children are often more technically savvy than their parents but less worldly-wise and so typically less wary about sharing information or responding to suspicious messages. This is why it's so important for parents to involve themselves in their children's online activities from a very young age.
Online abuse is a complex issue with no easy answer, but we can all take steps to rid the world of trolls. First, stop using the word, and get real. Be compassionate, caring, and kind towards each other. Let's all live by the The Golden Rule of Twitter - tweet others as you would like to be tweeted yourself.
In 2013, my own kids just have to be able to scroll back far enough on my Facebook Timeline to see exactly the last time I got horrendously drunk and allowed someone to tag a picture of me (or was too pie-eyed to stop them), or to see me mouthing off about something, dropping the F-bomb all over the place.
Forcing every internet user into a limited child-friendly 'utopia' is not only an exaggerated response, but coddling to the point to be unrealistic. Corruption is everywhere - capping every 'sex', 'breast' and 'penis' is futile.
On the issue of bullying, social media allowed bullies to change tactics, and with less risk involved. Psychological bullying came to the forefront, with Facebook Groups, pages and live chats all available for vulnerable kids to be targeted. Parents wrote social media off as a "fad" or a "trend" and the majority of them - through no fault of their own - left their kids to it.
There is a perceived culture of fear when it comes to parents letting their precious offspring bounce around the Wild West of the internet and our Tomorrow's World of technology. But we've found that the reality is very different.
It's estimated that around three in four convicted offenders use indecent images of children to stimulate themselves sexually, to lower the inhibitions of their victims or to teach the child to copy the activity in real-life situations. So what can be done?
For a long while within the IWF we've debated whether it is right for us to engage with teenagers. But the facts speak for themselves - young people under 18 are viewing adult content. Surely if we ignore this, we put them at risk by not providing them with the information they need to report these images?
Today it is not uncommon to see children or even toddlers playing games on a parent's smartphone or tablet. It's an easy decision to hand over your device to a fractious child in the pub or on a train, but this can have unexpected consequences.