The UK government has begun work on a new internet safety strategy that it claims will make Britain the “safest place in the world” for children to be online.
The new cross-party drive will focus on four areas: helping young people to help themselves; making parents aware of the dangers of going online so they can discuss it with their children; placing a greater focus on the industry’s responsibilities and exploring how technology can be used to provide solutions.
A report is set to be drawn up outlining how young people are using the internet, while also exploring the current climate in terms of threats posed online.
There will also be a series of roundtable discussions involving ministers and officials from departments across the government.
The development of the internet safety strategy is being led by the UK’s secretary of state for culture, media and sport, Karen Bradley.
“It is increasingly clear that some behaviors which are unacceptable offline are being tolerated or even encouraged online – sometimes with devastating consequences,” she said.
“We are determined to make Britain the safest place in the world to be online, and to help people protect themselves from the risks they might face.”
Ensuring that children are able to enjoy and benefit from the internet is an increasingly pressing issue, as the number of threats online has increased.
Cyberbullying, sexting, and content that promotes self-harm are all reportedly becoming concerns for parents.
For example, figures released by the PSHE Association last year found that that the issue of sexting was particularly pressing for 78% of British parents, compared to 69% concerned by alcohol misuse.
Similarly, a 2016 paper from the Children’s Commissioner reported that one in 10 young people has been the victim of cyberbullying, and there has also reportedly been a rise in cases of self-harm.
Furthermore, recent statistics from the National Crime Agency suggest cybercriminals are also getting younger, with the average age of cybercrime suspects recorded at just 17 last year.