The Child Internet Safety Summit 2013 (#CISAFE), at the QEII Conference Centre, London, on 11th July, was a watershed event for all those with a vested interest (which should be all of us) in seeing children enjoy their mobile / digital lives, without any threats to their wellbeing. The energy, urgency and focus were palpable.
Some 2 weeks earlier, I had watched Tanya Byron describe Child Mental Health on BBC Breakfast News. She was ably supported by a teenage invitee and they described the 25% incidence of this only recently understood and critical health issue for children, and how this affects them in to adult life. Whilst Cyber-bullying through digital devices, or other forms of online threats, is not the only contributory factors here, they are increasing pivotal in young people’s lives. Take the example of the increased incidence of ‘sexting’ where young girls are pressured in to sending revealing photos of themselves, from their Smartphones, to boys. In pre-smartphone days, children could leave any bullying at the front door of their home, however with ubiquitous mobile social media there is no longer a respite in a once protective sanctuary.
During the #CISAFE summit, the unanimous message from the invited speakers and audience was clear regarding the need to collaborate across various tiers of Government, Technology, Industry and Not-For-Profit Organisations. Claire Perry, UK Gov Advisor on Childhood, and Lisa Nandy, Shadow Children’s Minister, spoke passionately regarding the need for continued cross-party collaboration on the topic. Peter Liver, NSPCC, and Reg Bailey, Mother’s Union, spoke lucidly about the threats to large numbers of children – 250,000 calls to Childline. Kudos to Lucy Woodward, Disney Club Penguin, and Tony Anscombe, AVG, for the work their businesses are doing around online safety. Matthew Long, Kent Police, described the staggering 1 Million indecent images of children online!
I was a member of the Panel in a seminar session organised by Emma Jeffs, (@Norton_uk), with Tony Neate (@tonyneate) and Stephen Sharp, http://www.GetSafeOnline.org , in which online tools (Norton Family), threats (various Apps), organisations (UKCCIS – UK Council for Child Internet Safety) and general mobile usage advice were discussed. There was great interest from the attendees, with members of parenting organisations and LEAs keen to further disseminate the message.
Ultimately the tools, rules and framework cannot be a replacement for good parenting. A dialogue between parent and child regarding the rights and wrongs of life is paramount. However #CISAFE 2013 was tipping-point in the momentum to better support parents with such crucial discussions.