Children taught how to stay safe online
CHILDREN have marked Safer Internet Day 2013 by learning how to stay safe when surfing the internet and using social media.
Hundreds of children and young people from schools across the city spent the day at Plymouth University, with lecturers and specialist graduates offering hands-on advice.
The Europe-wide annual event is now in its 10th year, with schools and early years settings across the country celebrating the value of the Internet, and showing children how to stay safe online.
The theme for Safer Internet Day 2013 was online rights and responsibilities with the slogan Connect with Respect.
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Plymouth University offered workshops to children and young people to practice safe and respectful sharing of photos and messages, and how to protect themselves from misuse of their personal information.
Dr Shirley Atkinson, lecturer in information systems in Plymouth University's School of Computing and Mathematics, said: "Being online is part of everyday life, with the internet being used for everything from shopping to homework, as well as keeping in touch with people.
"The important thing is that we are teaching our children how to use it safely, but also how to really grab all the exciting opportunities that it brings."
Youth workers, teachers, social workers, the police and computer specialists offered a range of activities on Safer Internet Day, with children exploring the information they leave about themselves when they upload a photograph, or post a message on-line.
Jim Gould, chair of the Plymouth Safeguarding Children Board, said: "Most of this communication is fun, enjoyable and safe, but sometimes our young people can get into problems where they invite people they don't know into their world. We want to help children stay safe."
A specially equipped "Urbie", a mini-bus from Plymouth City Council's Youth Service, also helped children explore the Internet safely.
And a seminar for professionals working with children and young people explained how to identify and deal with risky behaviours on line. The day's events were organised by the Plymouth Safeguarding Children Board in partnership with Plymouth University and Plymouth City Council.
Councillor Nicky Williams, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "The internet plays such a big part in our lives today, particularly for children and young people. It's a crucial tool for learning and it's also a significant part of their social lives. Educating young people about how to be responsible with their personal information when posting on the Net and the potential dangers of online social networking makes complete sense.
"We want to encourage young people to use the Internet in an informed and responsible way. It's also important to educate parents about their role in actively monitoring their child's use of the Internet."
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