Get out your diaries, parents! 6 February is a special day indeed. As well as being National Frozen Yoghurt Day and Axl Rose’s 56th birthday, the 6th February is Safer Internet Day. Wait! Come back, sweet child!
What is Safer Internet Day?
Celebrated across the globe in February each year, Safer Internet Day promotes the safe and positive use of digital technology for children and young people. It’s a good day to start that conversation, basically, which should lead to us parents feeling confident enough to hand over the iDevice, close the door and get back to the Ocado order and looking on Facebook. (Shameless plug alert! If you want a shortcut, then Beano.com is the place to go for a completely 100% safe space for kids to hang out on the internet.)
Beano.com got involved by asking 2000 parents of 6-12 year olds what they really think about internet safety and their kids. The results? A whopping 95% of parents think they are responsible for ensuring their kids are safe online. It’s beyond annoying that the internet doesn’t feel safe enough for our kids to explore unaccompanied. Think of all that quiet time we could be spending by ourselves, scrolling social media in peace!
My kid can’t get enough of YouTube. Does that make me a terrible parent?
Not terrible, no. And you’re not alone – 64% of 10 year olds and 80% of 12-and-13-year olds are allowed to use YouTube unsupervised. So what are the dangers? The big four (porn, violence, horror and swears) are our biggest fears, plus the stories that hit the headlines are pretty scary – one of YouTube’s most followed stars Logan Paul uploaded a video showing the body of a suicide victim last month. Nice. But those endless unboxing videos and Minecraft walk-throughs are pretty harmless, right? In the main, yes. But the trouble with YouTube is that it’s unregulated, meaning there’s no guarantee your precious firstborn won’t stumble onto some oik dropping the f-bomb in your living room. And that endless ‘up next’ feature makes it really hard to extract your kid from a deep hole of shakeycam DIY slime recipes. One solution is to make playlists with your kid, according to his or her favourite YouTubers and subjects. Gold star examples include Stampy, MyFroggyStuff and… (can we say Beano again??!).
Is it all bad? Tell me it’s not all bad!
There, there. Many of the parents we surveyed say their child’s internet usage is a good thing – 40% feel is it has a positive impact on their relationships with friends, 30% felt the same about their child’s relationship with their family, while 33% said it impacts positively on their overall satisfaction with life. Other studies are beginning to look at social media and how it affects our quality of life, but while the boffins are working on that, us parents need to inform ourselves. The poll found popular social media sites were broadly misunderstood by parents, with 71% saying they did not understand how Snapchat works, while 55% said the same for Instagram. Get yourself an account, figure it out and you’ll be better equipped to talk to your kids about this. Plus, there are some cracking accounts to lose hours over follow.
Can’t the government just do this for us?
Hang about… Didn’t you just sign that online petition about NOT wanting the government spying on your internet use?! Anyway, while it would be easier for us if the nanny state stepped in and made it all go away, the law on this is in its infancy. 64% of parents from our survey agreed that the internet providers, such as Google, should take responsibility, while 42% opted for the Government and 42% picked school teachers. Anyone but us parents, right? Publishers DO have a responsibility to make sure children are safe on the internet, but use your discretion and do your research to figure out who is taking this seriously.
Beano is serious about safety but silly about pretty much everything else. Here’s Beano boss, Emma Scott. “It is heart-breaking to see parents across the UK feeling solely responsible for the online safety of their children. It’s no wonder that sometimes we stick our heads in the sand and hope it will all go away. Parents have so much on their plate, meaning publishers, providers and potentially the government need to help safeguard when mum or dad isn’t around. But while there is a lot of internet-scaremongering, it is refreshing to see 40% of parents find child’s internet has a positive impact on their friendships.”
So, now you’ve got the facts. It’s a tough one to fix and none of it will be resolved overnight (you don’t let them take their devices to bed with them, do you?). But if we talk about it smartly, our kids can access the best of the internet, safely. Thus the world will be a better place and, well, that Ocado order isn’t going to write itself is it?
Internet safety and children’s online consumption is an important theme Beano.com will return to throughout the year.
Beano is delighted to have worked with Young Minds on this research and proud to be partnering with the charity this year.