Foster a sense of internet safety

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February 9, 2017
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February 10, 2017
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Foster a sense of internet safety

Foster an awareness of online safety

Foster online safety procedures

If you foster children or young people, one of the biggest concerns is what they may be doing when they are online. This is true for all parents, but keeping youngsters safe has been made harder with the advent of smart phones which allow access to the internet anytime anywhere. The degree of risk can be extremely high, not only for individuals, but groups of people attempting to groom children for sexual exploitation. Social media can also put children at risk of cyber bullying which can lead to exclusion, depression and in the worst cases mental health issues. So the online word presents many risks to the innocent and unwary.

Foster parents need to be aware of the ongoing risk
What is encouraging is that today the risks are well known and documented which was not the case in the past. The challenge is to maintain a sense of ongoing awareness of the risks that the internet may pose to children and young people. There is a real momentum across society toward keeping this issue very much to the fore. So if you foster, it is encouraging to know that internet safety is now taken extremely seriously on a worldwide basis. This can be seen by the range of initiatives and programmes that are now in place. A good example of this is the ‘Safer Internet Day 2017’ celebrated globally on Tuesday 7th February. This important programme was coordinated by the UK Safer Internet Centre in partnership with three leading charities; the Internet Watch Foundation, the South West Grid for Learning and Childnet. This special day had the backing and involvement of hundreds of organisations – all dedicated to helping children to stay safe and have a positive experience with digital technology. In fact 1100 different organisations got actively involved in running Safer Internet Day activities. Schools right across the UK were involved, so key messages were conveyed to children and young people. Whatever the age of the child or young person is that you foster, it is reassuring to know that as a result of ‘Safer Internet Day 20178’, 2.8 million children and 2.5 million parents were reached.

A follow up survey to evaluate the results of the day were conducted by Populus and these were extremely impressive. Their findings revealed that 2 in 5 young people – aged 8-17s – and 1 in 5 parents were aware of ‘Safer internet Day’. These results were double the reach recorded in 2014.

Foster the confidence to communicate with young people
The risk to children in the past was greater because if they ran into trouble on the internet, the sense of shame and confusion was something that was exploited by abusers. They knew that it would be very hard for a child to reach out for help because they would be feeling shamed and embarrassed. To make a child feel alone and isolated was, and sadly remains, a key goal for the online abuser. What makes ‘Safer Internet Day’, and initiatives like it, so important is the change in attitudes and behaviour that are effected. Because of programmes like this, it is far easier for children and parents to communicate about the risks. It is a subject that has become open and not closed: this is revealed in the statistics which show the extent to which ‘Safer Internet Day’ has impacted positively on behaviour. Of the young people that knew about the day, 87% reported they felt more confident about what to do if they became worried about something on the internet and 68%, as a result, felt able to talk to someone in their family about using the internet safely. Parents also went on to take positive steps after finding out about the day: with 62% of parents of children and young people aged between 8-17 reported they talked confidently to someone within their own family about how to be safe online. 42% then reported that they went on to seek more information about online safety.

Foster an ever watchful attitude
Because the online word is developing so rapidly, and can pose dangers to young children and young people, future blogs will highlight this issue. What is important is to keep up and maintain the awareness of foster carers of the changing nature of the internet and strategies that may be put in place to keep risk to a minimum. For more information you can visit
https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/safer-internet-day/2017

And the good news at the end of this rainbow…today sees the first of our singing and music technology sessions. We are hoping to find and develop some real talent! There has been no shortage of enthusiasm – so we will be reporting on this site develops. If you foster, please visit our Facebook page – simply scroll down: http://bit.ly/2csBXVd and you will find we regularly feature details of events at Rainbow Fostering.

Do you want to foster children? Investigate our ‘Rainbow Rewards’
Rainbow will be pleased to pay a bonus of £500 if you are able to refer someone to be a foster carer. This will be paid after your referral has been approved and the first placement has been made. Please note, if you are already an approved foster carer and already care for a child (children) on a long-term basis, you can very easily transfer to Rainbow. You also will be eligible for a bonus. It is a straightforward process – Rainbow Fostering provide all the necessary support and guidance – please call for details and find out about the benefits of joining our vibrant and welcoming community of foster carers.

If you foster, keep up to date with the issues that matter
Our news section on the Rainbow Fostering web site features stories about fostering and related issues. These should be of general interest if you foster children: our latest – “Safer Internet Day” Simply visit http://bit.ly/2e8PrIK Please feel free to contact us with your own views or experiences.

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