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Safer Internet Day 2022

online safety and safer internet day 2022

In the digital age, the internet provides much more than just the ability to browse the web. Gaming, video streaming, content creation and social media all utilise the internet, allowing us to connect to people in ways that were never possible before.

Whilst in many ways being constantly connected is a positive and even revolutionary step forward, it does expose children and young people to dangers that would have never been considered 20 years ago. The internet – and the many devices connected to it – provides a gateway into your home, a vulnerability that can be exploited by sinister groups and  individuals.

It's not all just fun and games

This Safer Internet Day, we want to raise awareness of the possible dangers online gaming poses, in line with this year’s theme, ‘All fun and games? Exploring respect and relationships online.’ which aims to promote young people’s roles in creating a safer internet through interactive platforms.

It’s important to talk to young people about their experiences interacting with peers and others when playing games or taking part in ‘live’ experiences such as video streaming. 

As much as these platforms have a positive role in providing young people a place to interact with friends and as a hobby, unfortunately, just like other online spaces there are emerging safety issues. These include a lack of respect displayed to each other, groups ‘ganging up’ against other groups and knowing that it’s easy to get away with negative behaviour such as unkindness, bullying and swearing. The lack of consequences has a high impact on their safety and wellbeing. 

Addressing the issues will help young people understand what constitutes respectful behaviour online, and ensure they know what to do if they encounter hate or bullying directed at them or someone else.

What are the risks of online gaming?

Bullying

Young people can be deliberately excluded from games by friends, or criticised for how they play. Other players may swear or use abusive language through gaming chats. It is important that young people know how to use blocking and reporting functions in a game so they can prevent these bullies from contacting them.

Trolling, griefing and scams

Griefers are gamers who deliberately try to ruin the game for others, which can also be referred to as trolling. Players can also trick young people into giving them in-game items by offering them money or by hacking their accounts, these can be extremely valuable items which can be upsetting to lose.

In-game purchases

There are certain games which cost money to download or players may need to buy credits to purchase items in the game. Many free games are designed to entice players to make in-game purchases to improve gameplay, which can be very frustrating. Storing payment card details on devices or in apps can be risky as young people may be able to make a purchase automatically without having to verify the payment.

Talking to strangers

There are online games where players are required to be in teams or against other people, these can be players from different locations. 

Many popular games have official channels with thousands of members, although this can make the game more fun it also has its risks such as putting young people at risk of grooming or online abuse and most importantly moving conversations to other platforms or meeting up offline.

Recognising the risks within these spaces enables us to continuously keep young people safe online, we’ve gathered helpful resources which you can refer to below, or feel free to get in touch to discuss how The Exa Foundation can help provide online safety sessions for your school.

Safer Internet Day – Teaching Resources, BBC – https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/safer-internet-day-resources/z6bbhbk

UK Safer Internet Centre – https://saferinternet.org.uk/safer-internet-day/safer-internet-day-2022/about-the-theme

NSPCC – https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/online-games/

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