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Live webchat with Lucinda Fell from Childnet, Tues 9 Feb, 1-2pm

(70 Posts)
GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 08-Feb-10 16:20:24

Welcome to our new child internet safety forum.

To kick off, we're welcoming Lucinda Fell from Childnet International, who's coming on for a webchat tomorrow, Tues 9 Feb (Safer Internet Day 2010) between 1-2pm.

If you've got any concerns about what your children are up to online, for eg whether they're safe on social networking sites, and what you should be doing to ensure they ARE safe, then please join the discussion.

Lucinda is Childnet's policy and communications manager. She's a member of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety and a member of the European Commission Social Networking Taskforce.

As the chat is tomorrow, Lucinda won't be able to do any advance answers, but she'll do her best to get through as many questions as possible during the chat. Hope you can make it.


LucindaFell Tue 09-Feb-10 13:03:44

Hi JJ, this is an excellent question. Cyberbullying which is what we call bullying through using mobile technologies and computers is sadly an increasing worry for children and young people. The advice you’ve given your son to not engage in these unpleasant messages is great. In the office here we have lots of conversations about digital citizenship – and what it means to be good digital citizen, and it sounds like you are encouraging your son to be a good digital citizen. One indirect way of tackling the problem could be to suggest to your friend that she contacts her son’s school to ask if they have done any work on cyberbullying. We produced advice for secondary schools with the DCSF on this topic that the school can access free and maybe a lesson would wake the bully up to what they are doing, and encourage other friends to support the target.

LucindaFell Tue 09-Feb-10 13:07:01

Thank you for sharing your niece’s experience Quintessential12belowZero. Sadly there are those who will seek to use the Internet to foster inappropriate relations. The theme of Safer Internet Day this year is ‘Think before you post’ and that goes for the content you post too – such as your photos, and comments and it’s important for users to think about identifying features and details that they may inadvertently share about themselves. It sounds like they have done just the right thing in being careful with the references they use now. The new digital code as part of the Click Clver, Click Safe strategy is ‘Zip It, Block It, Flag It’ and this can be helpful for young users to remember with regards to not sharing too much personal information, blocking those who upset them or telling an adult if they are contacted by someone who worries them, or see something that upsets them.

Hulababy Tue 09-Feb-10 13:13:54

What strategies or policies should schools be implementing to ensure children remain safe online in schools?

cleanandclothed Tue 09-Feb-10 13:16:23

Dear Lucinda

I am struggling to come to grips with the world that my son (now only 1!) will live in when he is at primary school. When I was small, the only phone was a landline in a public place in the home, and there was no internet. So my parents were aware of pretty much 100% of the contact I had with anyone outside of school hours. Now that is so unbelievably different. Already DS loves my phone, my blackberry and my computer, just for the bright colours and buttons.

Do you have simple guidelines for small children? I will probably err on the 'draconian' side at first - no personal computer, only a family one in a public place, no personal mobile until - not sure - maybe secondary school. But when it comes to which websites etc I am clueless. Can you give basic pointers?

flashharriet Tue 09-Feb-10 13:18:31

Totally agree with what's been posted to date, especially Rhubarb. It worries me that in today's time-poor society, too many children are left without adequate supervision at home - I've been guilty of this myself. It's easy to think of the computer in the same way as the TV but children can be exposed to such horrific content at the touch of a button on the internet. I wish there was a way that I could filter content in the same way as on my Sky box e.g. some channels are blocked completely and don't even appear on the list and others can only be accessed by entering a PIN. Having 3 children of different ages, I would like to be able to easily have three different approaches reflecting these ages:

For the 6 yo - strict filtering so some sites don't even appear

For the 9 yo - slightly looser filtering and more use of a PIN allowing case by case discussion

For the 11yo - same as for the 9yo with the extension of having their own PIN to allow them access to certain agreed sites.

Is there a system that would allow me to do this? I do not have time to personally supervise and vet every site my children visit.

Re social networking sites - they are the Devil's own work for the under 21's IMO.

LucindaFell Tue 09-Feb-10 13:19:39

Hi hulababy – thank you for your question. All schools should have a range of policies in place including an acceptable user policy in place, that both teachers and pupils are familiar with . Use of technology should also be embedded in other policies such as the bullying policy. Our education team are in schools daily, and they often say that the most effective policies they have seen in schools are the ones where children have been included in the process. We have observed that they are more likely to respect and adhere to these policies. It’s also important for staff to now about the sorts of things that children enjoy doing online such as games and social networking services – much like we encourage parents to be familiar, so that they can talk to pupils and provide advice if they have questions on these topics.

WrigsAndJiggs Tue 09-Feb-10 13:21:20

I am concerned about the number of underage children on sites such as bebo and facebook. Do you think it will ever be possible to restrict accress to children? Obviously a parent can restrict access, but what about the service providers / people behind such websites. Can they ever be held accountable for failing to keep checks on their users?

LucindaFell Tue 09-Feb-10 13:22:58

On the theme of parents and teachers staying up-to-date, there are a wide range of resources that we have produced, and the government has today launched a new website (accessed through Directgov – ), supporting the Click Clever, Click Safe code which provides a useful overview to some of the issues

flashharriet Tue 09-Feb-10 13:23:12

Also, we discovered that despite having the highest level of protection on the kids' profile, they have been able to access a page showing hard core porn where only a few of the pictures had been blocked out due to content. The website address was something like www.sexygirls - I cannot believe that any decent filter would let this through angry.

And finally (sorry, I know we're only allowed one comment blush), is it true that computer manufacturers sell computers with the default safety settings being "off" rather than "on"? Isn't this something that Govt should be looking to change PDQ?

LucindaFell Tue 09-Feb-10 13:26:49

We’ve had quite a few questions on Facebook, and you might all be interested to know that my colleague Will blogged about the importance of thinking before you post on the Facebook blog this morning - Social networking sites, such as Facebook, are very popular with children – even those as young as 8 and 9, and as some of you rightly point out, the minimum age for using these services is 13. We understand the frustration that younger users have – but don’t condone lying about user age! There are social networking services such as Club Penguin which are aimed at a younger audience and which are more appropriate for younger users. I’ve mentioned our work on digital citizenship earlier, and part of being a good digital citizen is respecting the rules and the terms of the services that you are using – or in this case want to use! It’s also important to encourage children and young people to sign in with their correct ages as they are afforded a greater level of protection this way. However, we have heard of some families who model best practice to their children in their use of these sites, but have a family social networking account which they access, use and update together. As a parent or carer, one of the best things that you can do is to familiarise yourself with the services that your kids are using and the safety tips.

Hulababy Tue 09-Feb-10 13:27:43

Presumably though, many children are on FB with he permission of their parents. I have seen very young children with FB pages, and I know MNetters have cildren on FB too for various reasons.

I personally don't allow DD on FB. She is 7y and IMo sites like Club Penguin ar far more appropriate.

Rhubarb Tue 09-Feb-10 13:29:29

Can I repeat my question about why it is up to schools and parents to monitor childrens online activities and the creaters of social networking sites like facebook do not take any responsibility whatsoever.

Not every parent is internet savvy - Mumsnet parents probably are because we are all on here, but a lot more parents won't be online. My dh knows almost nothing about the internet and doesn't understand why I refuse to let dd have a facebook or an email address at the age of 9.

Surely if facebook creators are luring children in with gaming applications like FarmVille and YoVille they should take responsibility and ensure that stricter measures are put in place to prevent fake profiles and disturbing facebook groups. I don't believe them that they can't, I think the government needs to take action and stop putting the burden of responsibility onto parents and teachers.

Rhubarb Tue 09-Feb-10 13:31:29

The government have launched a website - again great for parents who already know their way around the internet, not so for those who don't go on the internet. How about making this information more accessible to all?

flashharriet Tue 09-Feb-10 13:36:19

Our school gave out fully functioning email addresses to the children without telling the parents. I was angry

LucindaFell Tue 09-Feb-10 13:38:18

Hello flashharriet. Thank you for your comments. You raise some very interesting points about the computer being used as a babysitter sometimes, and also how it can be difficult for parents to apply safety settings and to engage in this area. Filtering is a useful tool, but technology is only part of the solution and it is important for parents to talk to their children about what they are doing online and support them in making safe decisions. However, we know that talking to children and young people about internet safety can be challenging for parents and carers and recent stats released today by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety for Safer Internet Day said that over a quarter – 26.8% of young people say their parents don’t talk to them about how they are spending their time online. This next bit also answers Rhubarb’s question too - with the support of the UK Council for Child Internet safety, we’ve produced a CD Rom for parents to introduce them to the internet and to help keep their children safe online.

LucindaFell Tue 09-Feb-10 13:42:48

Rhubarb – you are so right when you say that it is important that this information is accessible for all users. The Know It All for Parents resource (the CD Rom I just mentioned) is available with a summary in 9 different languages including BSL and the Click Clever, Click Safe strategy has been designed to provide parents with a short and memorable code - Zip It, Block It, Flag It. Both the KIA CD Rom and the code can be used in the offline world – and so hopefully support parents who aren’t yet online.

Rhubarb Tue 09-Feb-10 13:43:27

flashharriet - yes that is true about computer safety settings being off. There was a documentary about this some time ago. It wouldn't take much for computer manufacturers to keep these switched on, it's then up to parents to find out how to switch them off.

I'm all for it.

LeninGrad Tue 09-Feb-10 13:44:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Rhubarb Tue 09-Feb-10 13:44:49

Lucinda - yes but again the focus is on the parents doing something about it and it takes away the responsibility from Facebook and other networking sites.

Aren't we just letting them off the hook?

I'd like to see your CD Rom sent to every parent in the country.

flashharriet Tue 09-Feb-10 13:44:58

It's so difficult though Lucinda - I might have the most internet savvy children and well-protected system but then they go to their friends' houses... Most parents appear to be so laissez-faire about the internet in general and social networking in particular, judging by the amount of kids at our school who already have FB accounts (and have open walls shock). I feel like a lone voice in the wilderness most of the time even being bothered about this stuff.

LucindaFell Tue 09-Feb-10 13:46:02

Hi morningpaper, thank you for your question. I think we've covered some of this in my previous post, but we think that the first thing that all parents can do in helping to protect their children online is to be interested in what they’re doing online and to start by asking the type of questions you raised – so that’s a great start We have a fun and interactive website at with all sorts of advice for children on how to stay safe online. You might like to start by looking at that website together, look at some of the videos of top tips from other young people and think together how they might be relevant to what your daughter will be doing online. It’s useful from the start to have simple rules in place about both of your expectations and for her to know that she can come to you if she sees something that upsets or worries her.

flashharriet Tue 09-Feb-10 13:47:17

And totally agree with Rhubarb - everything to do with the internet for kids appears to be down to me to police. Why can the Govt not meet us halfway on this and make our lives a little easier?

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 09-Feb-10 13:54:55

Quick reminder that webchat ends at 2pm. Thanks to everybody who has taken part

somebodiesmum Tue 09-Feb-10 13:56:50

My daughter was unlucky to be targeted by some one on line, there are videos of her semi naked doing things to herself on the net still. The police say she enticed these people to do it as they would find it hard to prove she was only 11 when it happened. She was sent some pretty disgusting images and they asked her for more videos/images of herself. I never allowed her to have the laptop out the living room, but she still managed to do it. They asked her where she stayed and if she could go someplce with them. She is now undergoing councelling but wont talk about it. I thought I had protected her from things like this but instad I let them in my house.

somebodiesmum Tue 09-Feb-10 13:57:50

Sorry hit post too quick

What could I have done differently? If anything

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