What is the Online Safety Act, and how can you keep children safe online?

Ofcom move to protect young people from harmful online content

Ofcom has notified social media providers that they face being named, shamed, and even banned from providing service to under-18s if they don’t comply with new online safety rules in the Online Safety Act (according to this BBC article).

Social algorithms must change to protect children – Ofcom – BBC News

As a parent, I’m very interested in regulating social media giants. Young people are understandably drawn to content. Mine constantly search stuff about hair care and, bizarrely, over-the-hill football icon Ronaldo.

Apparently, the Ronaldo vs Messi GOAT argument is still being argued in school playgrounds.

National online safety for kids

social media, connection, icons, young people, older children, potential risks, advice, resources

Young people lack a sense of “why this stuff” is being served up to me, a problem I honestly can’t relate to as the Internet wasn’t a thing when I was a kid, and CBBC and Teletext were hardly a challenging technology environment.

So I’m very much pro-regulation of the Internet, especially where children are concerned; even the “Wild West” finally got regulation, but not before a lot of people ended up shot.

Make online safety a priority.

Making sure your children are safe online can’t be left to regulation; children hopefully receive online safety training at schools. Parents should take the opportunity to sit with their children to discuss online bullying and fake news and expand on the online safety they learnt at school; make it part of a daily conversation, and you will learn as well.

Childnet created the digital leaders programme for schools. They give practical guidance, resources, materials and key online safety topics. https://www.childnet.com/parents-and-carers/have-a-conversation/

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What online safety parental controls are available?

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Don’t forget there are things you can do for yourself to keep your children safe online; on computers, set up separate profiles for you (the parents) and each of your family, which can support age-specific limitations.

Protecting phones and tablets is slightly more problematic, but remember that you can, with a little effort, make these safer environments and protect young people and adults by using the security settings provided by your Internet service provider.

This guide from the UK Safer Internet Centre covers some leading UK providers.

https://saferinternet.org.uk/guide-and-resource/parental-controls-offered-by-your-home-internet-provider

Don’t neglect your antivirus software’s ability to protect your online world. Products like Eset Home Security offer parental control.

Online safety advice

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In future blogs, I will cover how to set secure age-specific profiles for kids of different ages on PCs and software you can use to create your own safer Internet environment for you and the kids.

Next week, I will publish a list of the most responsible Internet providers and the tools they provide to protect you and your children and keep you safe online.

The Online Safety Act 2023 is a UK law regulating the duties of care of providers of online services, such as user-to-user and search services. Its purpose is to protect users, especially children, from illegal, harmful, and fraudulent advertising.

Here are some key points about the Online Safety Act and tips on keeping children safe online:

We as parents need to be conversant with the new rules.

What are the new rules for technology companies?

Providers’ Duties of Care:

The Act places duties of care on providers of user-to-user services (such as social media platforms) and search services (like search engines).

Providers must assess and manage risks related to illegal and harmful content and children’s access to their services.

Illegal Content Risk Assessment:

Providers must assess the risk of illegal and harmful content on their platforms.

They are responsible for promptly removing or restricting access to illegal and explicit content.

Children’s Safety:

Providers must consider children’s risks when designing their services.

They should take measures to protect children from harmful content and ensure age-appropriate experiences.

User Empowerment:

Providers must empower users to manage their online experience.

This includes features like reporting content and setting preferences.

Codes of Practice:

The Act allows for creating codes of practice to guide providers in fulfilling their duties.

These codes cover principles, objectives, and specific content protection measures.

New Criminal Offences:

The Act introduces new criminal offences related to online safety.

It grants powers to the regulator (Ofcom) to enforce the framework.

Tips for Keeping young people Safe Online:

Set a good example

Open Communication:

Regularly talk to your child about online safety.

Encourage them to share any concerns or experiences they encounter online.

Parental Controls and Filtering:

Set up parental controls on devices and apps to limit access to age-appropriate content.

Use home filtering tools to create a safe online environment.

Educate Your Child: Online safety

Teach your child about privacy settings, safe behaviour, and recognizing red flags.

Discuss the importance of keeping login details and passwords secure.

Supervise Online Activities:

Monitor your child’s online activities, especially for younger children.

Check their profiles and posts periodically.

Safer Internet Day 2024 & information sources for parents

Safer Internet Day is a global annual event focusing on online safety and well-being for children and young people. In the UK, it took place on Tuesday, February 6, 2024

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is a UK-based charity focused on eliminating online child sexual abuse imagery and content. https://www.iwf.org.uk/

Trust – advice on your child’s first phone -NSPCC

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Working for a safer internet for children and parents.

Tamite is committed to protecting our online lives. We provide advice, support, training resources, teaching resources, and cyber security products that are just as valid for home users as business users.

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