Technology, when used constructively is often a phenomenal force for good: creating easy access to information, horizon expanding opportunities and the chance to engage with people we wouldn’t otherwise see or know. The future is, and will remain for a long time to come, digital.
Alongside the opportunities comes a responsibility to get better at managing the risks and harms that the misuse of technology poses for some people – particularly on our children and young people.
It is not acceptable that children are bullied, exploited, or harmed in anyway through the use of technology – and as technology becomes more meshed into our lives, our diligence in reducing risks and mitigating harms must intensify.
In my view, it is then crucial that parents and carers are empowered keep children safe in the digital world.
Let’s take social media as an example. Over 6 in 10 parents say they are concerned about the impact of social media on children’s mental well-being. In particular, they are concerned about the lifestyle pressures created by the perceived requirement on some social media to be physically perfect, and enjoying a lifestyle devoid of dullness. Yet many parents are unaware of how different social media applications work, the tools and apps that are available to help manage screen time or where to find advice.
Another increasingly prominent issue is live streaming (where someone can share live video recordings or content with other people over the internet). There is a lack of understanding amongst parents of what livestreaming actually is and how children are using it to broadcast themselves to family and friends. Whilst parents who already livestream can see the creative benefits it can offer, 96% of parents who do not livestream would be unhappy about their child doing so.
We know that older siblings can often be a key factor in introducing children to content creation and most broadband providers now provide parental controls that can limit and or block different types of online activity.
Parents can then be empowered to learn about and address these issues, and children can be better supported in light of what we know about how they interact with different technologies.
To do this, I will be:
Encouraging local councils to host online safety conversations for parents that want to know more about social media platforms.
Working with the Abingdon Bridge to share their experience and knowledge with Government policy makers. You can find out more about the Abingdon Bridge HERE
Championing the work of West Berkshire Council’s Emotional Health Academy as an example of how local authorities, clinical commission groups and schools can support children’s mental health resilience. This is a programme I worked on during my time as a councillor. To find out more about this and my wider background, head to ABOUT JAMES
How can you help?
If you support my digital agenda, please sign my petition below. Your support helps me show policy makers how important these issues are and why we need to take action now.
 InternetMatters.org Annual Report 2018 http://pwxp5srs168nsac2n3fnjyaa-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Internet-Matters-Report-Impact-Report-2018.pdf