From Gaming to Safeguarding concerns: An update from the Professionals Online Safety Helpline (April – June 2018)

The Professionals Online Safety Helpline provides free support to members of the children’s workforce in the UK with an online safety concern. In this blog Kat Tremlett, Helpline Practitioner, offers an insight into the type of cases the helpline has been dealing with over the last 3 months.

During the second quarter of 2018, the POSH helpline has seen nearly 500 contacts. The top reasons for contacting the helpline were:

  • Online Reputation issues (26% of all contacts),
  • Potentially Harmful Content (17% of all contacts),
  • Cyber-Bullying (14% of all contacts) and
  • Media Literacy / Online Safety education (13% of all contacts).

Online Games

A large portion of the media literacy and potentially harmful content cases during this quarter have been regarding well-intentioned safeguarding messages sent out from various professionals to organisations supporting children warning them about the risk of harmful content in certain games.

Often in these instances, professionals contact us to find out whether the concerns are credible. Sometimes they are, sometimes not so much, but our advice in such instances remains the same; that information shouldn’t be circulated broadly, rather on a “need to know” basis. This way, young people who don’t already know about the harmful content are not attracted to it unnecessarily.

Safeguarding Young People Online

Another common trend regards media literacy cases over the last 3 months has been about online safety organisations contacting schools claiming to have witnessed their pupils engaging in risky behaviour on social media platforms. These organisations claim to be warning schools so that they can address the behaviour. However they often seek confirmation of the young person’s indentity and offer a training package to the school to help them address online safety concerns.

The ethical implications of how these organisations obtain information about the pupils is questionable, and we would advise not corresponding with any organisation that contacts a school in this way.

One of our helpline practitioners has written a blog about the issue which has more practical advice.
If you are looking to arrange online safety training for your school, make sure it is from a reliable source. UKCCIS has published this guidance for education settings for Using External Visitors to Support Online Safety Education.

SWGfL delivers training as part of its work as a partner in the UK Safer Internet Centre, and is a trusted training provider with a wealth of experience in the field of online safety.  You can find out more about how to book a UKSIC training session here.

Hacked Accounts

We have also received a handful of cases about young people having their social media accounts hacked. These are generally where a password has been shared within a friendship group and peers have logged in and posted nasty content for a laugh. While we will always help to eradicate bullying behaviour, in most of these circumstances, we would advise following the ‘hacked account’ reporting route on the social media platform in the first instance.

If you’re a member of the children’s’ workforce requiring assistance with an online safety concern, please contact the Professionals Online Safety Helpline for further advice:

Email:  Telephone: 0344 3814 772

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