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Getting behind Safer Internet Day

Today is Safer Internet Day, and Prime Minister and Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle are joining hundreds of organisations in pledging their support for the event.

For Get Safe Online's information and advice on safeguarding children online, click here.

- Research launched to mark Safer Internet Day reveals a generation of young digital creators, with 2 in 5 young people aged 7-19 having created an app, website, game or blog
- More than two thirds of parents say that they have discussed online safety with their children
- However, just 1 in 5 parents say that they have spoken to their children about how to report concerns online

Today is the eleventh annual Safer Internet Day with the theme ‘Let’s create a better internet together’. Coordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre, and recognised globally in over a hundred countries, the day provides a platform to celebrate this digital creativity and to encourage the safe, responsible use of technology. Hundreds of schools, companies, charities and police forces are joining together in reaching out to millions of people across the UK today for the event.

Everyone is being encouraged to play their part in creating a better internet and over 500 organisations have pledged their support for the event. High profile partners including the BBC, Tesco, Microsoft, Disney Club Penguin, Facebook, Google and the NSPCC are coming together to deliver a range of inspiring activities across the UK.

One of the key themes coming out of the day is the need to help more parents in having conversations with their children about internet safety. Research launched today reveals that more than two-thirds (68%) of parents say that they have spoken to their child/children about at least one key internet safety issue with almost half (43%) of parents with 11-15 year olds saying that they have spoken to their child/children about online pornography.

However, only 1 in 5 (19%) say that they have spoken to their child/children about how to report something online, which may mean that many children lack the skills to respond to cyberbullying, sexual exploitation and inappropriate content, showing there’s still work to be done to make the internet a safer, better place. The online study, conducted for the UK Safer Internet Centre by ComRes, identifies where parents are more confident talking about internet safety and highlights the gaps:

- Only 37% of parents say that they have spoken to their child/children about what to do if something upsets them online, despite this being one of the most important messages for children.
- Almost half of parents say that they have spoken to their child/children about meeting strangers on the internet (48%) and protecting personal information online (43%).
- People being unkind online is the top online concern for children, but only a third of parents (35%) report that they have spoken to their child/children about cyberbullying, and only a quarter (23%) say they have spoken to their child/children about being a good friend online.

- Only 1 in 5 parents report that they have spoken to their child/children about sexting (21%). To help more parents take the first step, the UK Safer Internet Centre has produced a series of conversation starters.

Voicing his support for the day, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I’m delighted to support Safer Internet Day and the work of the UK Safer Internet Centre. As a father of young children, I know how much parents worry about what their kids can see online. Under this Government, we have seen progress, with the introduction of family friendly filters and Google and Microsoft clamping down on child abuse images online. There is nothing more important than protecting our children; Government, industry, charity and parents all have a part to play.”

Will Gardner, Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, said: “Everyone has responsibility to make internet safety a priority. Young people are increasingly becoming digital creators and we must equip them with the skills to continue to create and innovate by working together to make the internet a great and safe place. This Safer Internet Day is the biggest one yet - the fantastic range of supporters really reflects how widespread and important this issue is, and we are delighted to see such collaborations where schools, civil society, public and private sectors are all championing the same cause”.

Olympic gymnast and Dancing on Ice star Beth Tweddle has pledged her support for this year’s event. Commenting on her involvement, Beth said: “It’s really important young people feel safe and empowered online and know how to report anything that upsets them or to tell an adult. It’s also vital that parents feel confident enough to discuss online safety with their children. It’s why I’m supporting the day to help raise awareness of what to do and all the help that’s available.”

Creating a better internet together

From 12 noon today, the UK Safer Internet Centre is presenting SID TV online, a live TV show at www.saferinternetdaytv.com with advice and practical information from experts and providers such as Facebook, Twitter and BT for teachers, young people and parents on internet safety and issues such as cyberbullying, sexting, parental controls, reporting and privacy.

Later in the day, the UK Safer Internet Centre is hosting an event at Microsoft’s head offices in London bringing together a panel of young people with experts across government, industry and education to hear more about what a better internet means to each of these important audiences. Key speakers at the event will be Beth Tweddle, Olympic gymnast and Dancing on Ice star, and the Rt Hon Maria Miller MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Nina Devani, a 15 year old app creator from Luton, is one of the young panellists attending the event. She launched her app when she was 14 years old and went on to win the Safer Internet Day 2013 Youth Achievements Competition. Talking about the importance of Safer Internet Day for celebrating the fantastic opportunities the internet offers, Nina said: “I firmly believe there is some genius in every child and the internet can be utilised to find and stimulate that special something that everyone has. There is no other medium that can provide access to the knowledge, expertise and experience that can so easily be shared by people on a global basis. The internet is a door to endless opportunities and youth are a key to endless creativity. We need to support young people to develop digital skills, and ensure they know how to keep themselves safe online.”

For more information on the activities taking place to celebrate Safer Internet Day, visit the UK Safer Internet Centre website.