Building a Safer Internet: The Importance of Education
Misinformation and other online harms pose complex problems with no easy answers. Educating people through awareness events, such as yesterday’s Safer Internet Day, is one key strategy. Helping young people to seek out legitimate sources is another.
Here are some key data points, courtesy of research sponsored by Childnet. (The full report is available at www.saferinternetday.org.uk):
- More than two-thirds of young people (77%) say being online is a more important part of their life than ever before. All children mentioned that they use the internet for content, entertainment and connecting with their friends.
- Misinformation is reaching children, and upsetting them. Fully 48% of young people are seeing misleading content every day, with more than one in 10 seeing it more than six times a day – often leaving them feeling annoyed, upset, sad, angry, attacked or scared
- Parents can do more. Only 28% of young people talk to parents or carers about misleading content. One of the children noted that parents should create a safe space in which their children feel comfortable to talk to them about fake news, or something that was wrong that they sent to their friends which leaves feeling bad.
- Platforms can do more. Fully 78% of respondents thought that online platforms should do more to tackle misleading content.
MPA and others across the creative sector work together to support a number of consumer awareness campaigns in partnership with the UK Government and other creative industry stakeholders. These include the Get it Right From a Genuine Site campaign and Crimestoppers, an independent crime-fighting charity that operates an anonymous phone line and website for reporting information about illegal activity.
We have also supported the Childnet Film Competition for the last two years, which works to make the internet a great and safe place for children and young people. Through this competition, we and other supporters hope that young people can have fun and learn about how film and television programmes are made, while better understanding the importance of using legal sites to help make the internet an open, safe and valuable resource.
Education is a shared responsibility. For the internet to function effectively and for the good of society, we cannot have an online culture that ignores the norms of our offline culture. We need a responsible and safe internet for children and for all of us. Education plays a critical role.