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Guidelines for

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Parents, Guardians
and Educators on
Child Online
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Legal notice
This document may be updated from time to time.
Third-party sources are quoted as appropriate. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is not responsible for the content of external
sources including external websites referenced in this publication.
Neither ITU nor any person acting on its behalf is responsible for the use that might be made of the information contained in this publication.

Mention of and references to specific countries, companies, products, initiatives or guidelines do not in any way imply that they are endorsed or
recommended by ITU, the authors, or any other organization that the authors are affiliated with, in preference to others of a similar nature that
are not mentioned.
Requests to reproduce extracts of this publication may be submitted to:
© International Telecommunication Union (ITU), 2009

These Guidelines have been prepared by ITU and a team of contributing authors from leading institutions active in the ICT sector and would not have been
possible without their time, enthusiasm and dedication.

ITU is grateful to all of the following authors, who have contributed their valuable time and insights: (listed in alphabetical order)
• Cristina Bueti and Sandra Pandi (ITU)
• John Carr (Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety)
• Ethel Quayle (University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom)
• Janice Richardson (Insafe network)
• Isabella Santa (European Network and Information Security Agency)
• Margareta Traung (European Commission Safer Internet programme)
• Nevine Tewfik (The Suzanne Mubarak Women’s International Peace Movement: CyberPeace Initiative)

The authors wish to thank John Carr from CHIS, Sonia Billard and Christiane Agbton-Johnson from UNIDIR, and Katerina Christaki from ENISA for their
detailed review and comments.

ITU wishes to acknowledge Salma Abbasi from eWWG for her valuable involvement in the Child Online Protection (COP) Initiative.

Additional information and materials relating to these Draft Guidelines can be found at: and will be updated on a regular basis.

If you have any comments, or if you would like to provide any additional information, please contact Ms. Cristina Bueti at
Table of Contents

Executive Summary 1

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators 4

Parents and Guardians

1. Background 7

2. Children and Young People Online 11

Case Study: Egyptian Young People and the Internet 15

3. Parents, Guardians and Educators 17

Defining parents, guardians and educators
What many parents, guardians and educators don’t know

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

Case Study – Privacy in peril 21

Online risks and vulnerabilities related to the use of the Internet
• Social networking
• Sexting
• How children are using new media
• Where to go for help?
• How educators might be at risk
Same role for everyone?
The right messages for the right people
The role parents and guardians can play
The role educators can play
Educational and psychological effects
Online solicitation or grooming
Accessing problematic materials online
Problematic opportunities

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

4. Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators 49
Parents and guardians

5. Conclusions 57

References and Sources for Further Reading 58

Appendix 1 - Built-in Protection 61
Appendix 2 - Instant language, decoded 62

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

Protecting children online

is a global issue, so a global
response is needed

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

I welcome this opportunity to share with you these preliminary
guidelines which have been developed with the invaluable help of
multiple stakeholders.

Child Online Protection – in the era of the massively-available

broadband Internet – is a critical issue that urgently requires a global,
coordinated response. While local and even national initiatives
certainly have their place, the Internet knows no boundaries, and an
international cooperation will be the key to our success in winning
the battles ahead.

Parents, guardians and educators are key to winning the fight against
cybercrime and cyberthreats, and I am personally grateful for your

Dr Hamadoun I. Touré
Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

Executive Summary
The Internet has brought untold puter programs and mobile or tell them are safe e.g. at home
benefits to children around the personal devices, adults in gener- and at school. Many parents
world, with the number of con- al tend to require an instruction and guardians adhere to the
nected households increasing manual for what most children common misconception that
each year. By early 2009, there would say are fairly simple tasks. their children are safer if they
were over 1.5 billion people on- However, what adults can bring are at home using a computer
line, up from under 200 million to the e-safety debate are invalu- than they would be if they were
at the beginning of 1998. able life skills and experience. accessing the Internet outside
of the home. This is a danger-
But while the potential for good It is crucial to establish what ous misconception because the
is undisputed, the Internet has children and young people are Internet can take children and
also raised some new and dis- actually doing online as opposed young people virtually anywhere
turbing issues, especially where to what adults think they are in the world, and in the process
children are concerned. doing. Research is showing they can be exposed to poten-
that more and more children tially dangerous risks, just as
Today’s youth are very techni- are connecting to the Internet
cally savvy. They are able to they could in the real world.
using game consoles and mobile
master complex programs and devices, yet many adults are not These Guidelines have been de-
applications quickly and easily even aware that connectivity is veloped within the Child Online
on both computers and mobile possible using such devices. Protection (COP) Initiative1, as
or other personal devices and part of ITU’s Global Cyberse-
they seem to be able to do this One key issue is that children curity Agenda2, with the aim of
almost intuitively. On the other and young people tend to access establishing the foundations for
hand, when it comes to com- the Internet in places that adults a safe and secure cyberworld not


Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a child as being any person under the age of 18. These Guidelines address issues facing
all persons under the age of 18 in all parts of the world. However, a young internet user of seven years of age is very unlikely to have the same
needs or interests as a 12 year old just starting at High School or a 17 year old on the brink of adulthood. At different points in the Guidelines we
have tailored the advice or recommendations to fit these different contexts. Whilst using broad categories can act as a useful guide it should never
be forgotten that, in the end, each child is different. Each child’s specific needs should be given individual consideration. Moreover there are many
different local, legal and cultural factors which could have an important bearing on how these Guidelines might be used or interpreted in any
given country or region.
There is now a substantial body of international law and international instruments which underpin and, in many cases, mandate action to protect
children both generally, and also specifically in relation to the internet. Those laws and instruments form the basis of these Guidelines. They are
comprehensively summarized in the Rio de Janeiro Declaration and Call for Action to Prevent and Stop Sexual Exploitation of Children and
Adolescents adopted at the 3rd World Congress against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents, in November, 2008.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


only for today’s youth but also ICT sector, namely EU Safer children in cyberspace and
for future generations. Internet Programme, European promote safe access to online
Network and Information Secu- resources.
The Guidelines are meant to rity Agency (ENISA)3, Children’s
act as a blueprint which can be Charities’ Coalition on Internet This will not only lead to the
adapted and used in a way which Safety, Cyberpeace Initiative and building of a more inclusive
is consistent with national or the University of Edinburgh information society, but it will
local customs and laws. More- (United Kingdom).Invaluable also enable ITU Member States
over, it will be appreciated that contributions were also received to meet their obligations to-
these guidelines address issues from individual national gov- wards protecting and realizing
which might affect all children ernments and high technology the rights of children as laid out
and young people under the age companies who share a common in the United Nations Conven-
of 18 but each age group will objective of making the inter- tion on the Rights of the Child4,
have different needs. Indeed net a better and safer place for adopted by UN General As-
each child is unique, deserving children and young people. sembly resolution 44/25 of 20
individual consideration. November 1989 and the WSIS
ITU, together with the other Outcomes Document5.
These Guidelines have been authors of this report is calling
prepared by ITU in a very col- upon all stakeholders to pro-
laborative way involving a team mote the adoption of policies
of contributing authors from and strategies that will protect
leading institutions active in the




Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Guidelines for Parents, Guardians

and Educators
This section aims to provide guidelines for parents, guardians and educators in order for them to help children
have a safe and positive experience while online. A more extensive list of points to consider is provided at page 49

Parents guardians and Educators

# Key areas for consideration

1. Safety & a. Keep the computer in a common room

security of
your personal b. Install firewall and antivirus software

2. Rules a. Agree house rules about using the Internet and personal devices, giving
particular attention to issues of privacy, age inappropriate places, bullying and
stranger danger

b. Agree rules about use of mobile devices

3. Parents’, a. Parents, guardians and teachers should be familiar with the Internet sites used
Guardians’ by their children and should have a good understanding of how children spend
and Teachers’ their time online
b. Parents, guardians and educators should understand how children use other
personal devices such as mobile phones, games consoles, MP3 players, PDAs,

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

4. Children’s a. Educate your children on the risks associated with sharing personal information;
education arranging face-to-face meetings with a person/`s met online; posting
photographs online; making use of the webcam; etc.

5. Communication a. Communicate with your children about their experiences

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


The World Summit on the In- their protection in cyberspace.
formation Society (WSIS), which
was held in two phases in Ge- The Tunis Commitment recog-
neva (10-12 December 2003) and nized “the role of information
Tunis (16-18 November 2005), and communication technolo-
concluded with a bold commit- gies (ICTs) in the protection of
ment “to build a people-centred, children and in enhancing the de-
inclusive and development- velopment of children” as well as
oriented information society, the need to “strengthen action to
where everyone can create, access, protect children from abuse and
utilize and share information and defend their rights in the context
knowledge” (Geneva Declaration of ICTs”.
of Principles, para 1). It is usually a given6 that in gen-
At WSIS, ITU was entrusted eral, we know where our children
by leaders of the international are each day, who they are with,
community with Action Line C5: and what they are doing.
“building confidence and security But in the digital world, where
in the use of ICTs”. even our youngest children are
The WSIS Outcomes also spe- spending a growing amount of
cifically recognized the needs of time, we are often reduced to the
children and young people and role of spectator and many of us


Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


“theAdults bring life-skills and experience to

e-safety debate

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

are reeling from a case of ‘digital been written yet and society hasn’t These patterns are consistent in they had been approached by
whiplash’. had time to form standards. countries around the world: strangers online, and 41% had
talked to an online stranger about
Children, even very young ones, We have a legal drinking age and In France, 72% of children surf sex or something that made them
may very well understand today’s a legal driving age, but there is online alone, and while 85% of feel uncomfortable.
technology better than educators no solid, conventional wisdom parents know about parental
or parents. about the age at which children control software, only 30% have In order to respond to these
can safely go online by themselves installed it. growing challenges, ITU, together
Children today have only ever or text a friend on their cell phone with other stakeholders, launched
experienced a world that’s cyber- - or about what the parents’role In Korea, 90% of homes connect the Child Online Protection
filled, where technology is woven should be in keeping watch on to cheap, high-speed broadband, (COP)7 Initiative in November
into every aspect of their lives. our vulnerable and often naïve and up to 30% of Koreans under 2008.
children during their online activi- the age of 18 are at risk of Inter-
It informs their friendships, their net addiction, spending two hours COP has been developed by ITU
education and their understanding ties.
a day or more online. as part of its Global Cybersecu-
of the world and people around There is a disconcerting gap rity Agenda (GCA)8 and has been
them. In the meantime, we as between what parents think their In the UK, 57% of 9-19 year olds established as an international
adults are scrambling to figure children know and what children say they’ve seen online pornogra- collaborative network for action
out which rules to set and how to actually know. phy, 46% say they have given out to promote the online protection
enforce them. information they should not have of children and young people
While 92% of parents say they and 33% say they have been bul- worldwide, by providing guidance
The trouble is, this particular sub- have established rules for their lied online.
ject isn’t covered in the parental on safe online behaviour in con-
children’s online activity, 34% of junction with other UN agencies
lesson book; that chapter hasn’t children say their parents haven’t. In China, 44% of children said
and partners.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


The key objectives of the COP • These Guidelines have been

initiative are to: prepared within the ITU’s
Child Online Protection
• Identify the key risks and (COP) Initiative and aim to
vulnerabilities to children and provide information, advice
young people in cyberspace; and safety tips for parents,
• Create awareness of the risks guardians and educators on
and issues through multiple child online protection.
• Develop practical tools to
help governments, organiza-
tions and educators minimize
• Share knowledge and experi-
ence while facilitating inter-
national strategic partnerships
to define and implement
concrete initiatives.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Children and Young

People Online
The Internet has continued to Children and young people are ac-
change dramatically in recent tive and enthusiastic users of ICTs
years. New services such as blogs, for purposes such as chatting and
Wikipedia, My Space, You Tube, sharing personal information. This
and online games have increased provides a variety of positive op-
the Internet’s connectivity, en- portunities for participation, cre-
couraging social networking and ativity and education. It also allows
allowing surfers to create their communication between young
own content. The number of new people across national, religious
blogs has continued to double and cultural borders. For example
every five months for the last two the following table describes the
years; the use of social networking type of online experiences the
websites such as Bebo, Facebook, children will be most likely to have
Habbo and Twitter is multiplying when accessing virtual worlds9:
year after year; and over the past
three years communication be-
tween web users has become the
largest source of Internet traffic.

ENISA, Children on virtual worlds - What parents should know, September 2008, available at http://www.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Type of player Interested in Likely to be Characteristics

Explorer-investigators Following a quest, The more confident Examines the
solving a mystery, going children, no age or detail, curious and
on a journey, being gender difference communicative,
‘outdoors’ imaginative engagement
with the mystery

Self-stampers Presenting themselves in Both genders, possibly Boys and girls want to
the world more older children ‘make their mark’ on
their avatar, perhaps
with their own face;
older girls want to dress-
up and make up their
avatars. Both boys and
girls want to express
themselves through the
creation of a home or
Social climbers Ranking, social position Both younger and older Competitive; concerned
within the environment children; only some with ranking and
gender bias (boys slightly exhibiting that ranking
more than girls) to others
Fighters Death and destruction, Male, slight bias towards Children express
violence, and older boys frustration when not
superpowers having a means to
express themselves;
offering opportunities
to “win” and “defeat
opponents” lessens the

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

Type of player Interested in Likely to be Characteristics
Collector-consumer Accumulating anything Older boys and girls Collects pages and
of perceived value coins, seeks shops, gift-
within the system giving opportunities, an
economy and a place to
put belongings
Power users Giving everyone Expert in the games, Spend several hours
the benefit of their the geography of at a time playing and
knowledge and the environment, the exploring the game, with
experience systems a deep interest in how
the game works
Life-system builders Creating new lands, new Younger children Children express
elements to the (imagined worlds frustration when not
without any rules), having a means to
environment, populating
and older children express themselves;
the environment
(imagined worlds with systems (or lack of
rules and systems – them) to govern the
houses, schools, shops, environment are
transport, economy) appealing.
Nurturers Looking after their Younger boys and girls, Children want to meet
avatar and pets and older girls and play with others, to
teach their avatar skills
such as swimming, and
to have a place for their
avatar to sleep. Virtual
pets are also appealing.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


The Internet is a neutral tool for phones to access the Internet personal devices are similar to
disseminating data, which can be virtually anywhere they go. those where the Internet is ac-
used for good or bad purposes. cessed via a wired connection.
This increases the likehood that
On the one hand for example, they will be exposed to dangers The big difference between ac-
it has enormous potential as a online without the supervision cessing the Internet through a
source of education for people of an adult. child’s mobile phone or laptop
of all ages and capabilities. compared to traditional access
In Korea, for example, the through a home computer is
Whilst on the other hand, the average age for children to be the very private nature of such
Internet can be used to set given their first mobile phone is mobile personal devices.
online traps to exploit users for around eight years old.
criminal purposes and unfortu- Where personal devices are
nately children are among those It is important to remember that used primarily by teenagers typi-
who are most vulnerable to such mobile phones themselves have cally parents cannot use direct
traps. evolved recently. supervision in the same way as
Handsets can now be used for they would on a computer at
It is important to remember home.
that the Internet is not the only video messaging, entertainment
communication tool which can services (downloading games, Parents should talk to their
potentially negatively affect the music, and videos) as well as ac- children regarding usage and
wellbeing of children. cess to the Internet and loca- ensure that they enable controls
tion-based services. on children’s devices when they
In the last few years, the use of are purchased or used for the
mobile phones by young people The potential risks faced by
children accessing the Internet first time.
has increased dramatically, and
children are using their mobile through mobile phones or other

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

Case Study: Egyptian Young People and the Internet
The Egyptian Youth Internet The initial training session of Approximately 800 Egyptian • One of the most shocking
Safety Focus Group (Net-Aman) Net-Aman has produced a ques- young people responded to results of the survey was the
consists of 11 members aged 18 tionnaire that the members used the youth2youth survey en- fact that most of the youth are
to 28, and is an integral part of to capture a “snapshot” of chil- titled “Egyptian young people sharing their personal info, full
the wider Cyber Peace Initiative dren and youth’s concerns and and the Internet”. name, age, photos, school in-
developed by the Suzanne Muba- hopes about using the Internet formation and phone numbers
rak Women’s International Peace in Egypt. The children and young over the Internet without any
Movement with support from a people surveyed asserted that: worry about the consequences.
range of partners. Each youth was commissioned
to go into schools and univer- • They are not monitored by In light of the results of this sur-
The name of the focus group sities, and submit a report on any adults while using the vey and in line with the mandate
is Net-Aman (“net-safety” in the findings of the survey to Internet. of the Egyptian Youth Internet
Arabic) has been picked out by the second training session in • Concerning the risks and Safety Focus Group (Net-Aman),
all the youth members. March 2008. The survey covered challenges of the Inter- the youth members will continue
a range of young people repre- net in Egypt, they listed: to contribute and participate in ef-
The mandate of this group is to senting diversified age groups forts that will help to raise aware-
increase awareness about Inter- inappropriate content
from 8 to 22 years. represented the main on- ness on child online protection
net safety and the huge potential issues for the youth of Egypt.
of ICT with the aim to offer Such a survey helped Net-Aman line risk, then viruses and
children and youth the chance to to understand what young spywares, violent content, For additional information please
identify by themselves harmful people in Egypt feel about the copying for homework visit the Cyberpeace website at:
content and decide on the best Internet and their safety. (plagiarism), while the last http://www.smwipm.cyberpeace-
way to deal with that through a risk is cyber bullying. initiative. org
participatory approach.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Parents, Guardians
and Educators
Defining parents, Today’s world presents a myriad
of cases where people other than
guardians and educators the natural parents may take care
Several Internet sites refer to of children.
parents in a generic way (such as
They are often referred to as
on a “parents page” and refer to
guardians or caregivers, and it
“parental controls”), therefore,
is important and imperative to
it might be useful to define the
recognise the role they can play
people who ideally should ensure
while the children under their care
that children use Internet sites
are online.
safely and responsibly and grant
their consent to have access to An educator is a person who
specific Internet sites. systematically works to improve
another person’s understanding of
In this document, the term
a topic.
“parents” will refer to the natural
mother and/or father of a child The role of educators encom-
or a person to whom guardianship passes both those who teach in
has been granted. classrooms and the more informal
educators who, for example, work

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


in Social Networking sites to pro-

vide online safety information or
run community or school based
courses to enable children to stay
safe online.
The work of educators will
vary depending on the context
in which they work and the age
group of the children (or adults)
they seek to educate.
All those who come into contact
with children and young people
– parents, teachers, social care
providers, library services, family
support workers, youth leaders
and wider members of the fam-
ily including grandparents. It is
important to note that children
in the care of social services are a
particularly vulnerable group and
as such need special attention.
Also, what it is important to look
at the role of peer mentoring – as
these individuals will be educators
in one sense of the word.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

Feature Description
Build profiles Input information about themselves.
What many parents,
Interact with others Share information and ideas with other users through chat, blogs, instant
guardians and educators messaging, discussion forums and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) features.
don’t know
Recent analysis conducted by Create avatar Choose a graphic image to represent themselves and establish their identity in the
Internet site.
ENISA has highlighted that in
most cases parents and guardians Play games Challenge their minds and provide activities to participate in online.
are not aware of details concern-
Respond to quizzes Challenges such as brain training, generally with a reward of some kind for
ing the online experiences their participation. Also, provides competition between friends or groups of friends in
children are likely to encounter the form of “leaderboards”.
and the risks and vulnerabilities
related to various online activities. Make drawings, Also called UGC or User-Generated Content, many children enjoy creating
animation, comic their own content to share with their community, and thrive creatively when
Children can be online using strips and gadgets collaborating with others in their virtual community.
different platforms and devices Create content Self-publishing has opened up to all ages and can be an excellent creative outlet.
which can include: ranging from music
1. Personal computers and dance to video
2. Mobile phones Buy products Some services may allow users to purchase products or services using real money.
3. Personal digital assistants Upload photos Some services may allow children to upload photos and information. Some will
(PDAs). or any other filter for personal and/or other inappropriate content.
Depending on the type of
platform used and the features Download music Some services may allow children to download music.
that are available, each person’s
See advertisement Internet sites are often supported by advertising.
experience will be different. For about products/
example: services

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Young people go online for a vari- 6. Playing games. rather than being outside and and they can be exposed to risks
ety of different reasons including 7. Establishing their own space, not knowing where they are. Of in the same way as they can in the
the following (10): even when parents and care- course the Internet can take chil- real world. (See case on page 21)
1. Interaction with friends in a givers are present. dren and young people anywhere
new environment, in real time 8. Experimenting with their
sharing common interests identity, new social spaces and
with others. boundaries.
2. Creating and joining com-
munities or interest groups, Even if the user experience is
e.g. music, football etc., different when an Internet site is
communicating thoughts accessed through a mobile phone
and information on areas of or PDA rather than through a
interest through blogs, instant personal computer, the risks
messaging and other tools. and vulnerabilities related to the
use of the Internet are the same
3. Meeting new people and
regardless of the platform.
eventually making new
friends One key issue is that children and
4. Creating and sharing original young people tend to access the
and personal content, such as internet in places that we tell them
images, pictures and videos, are safe, i.e. home and school.
to expand opportunities for Parents and guardians have similar
self-expression. misconceptions, often saying that
5. Creating, publishing and shar- they would rather their children
ing music. were at home using a computer

Home Office, Home office task force on child protection on the internet – Good practice guidelines for the
providers of social networking and other user interactive services 2008, 2008, available at http://police.homeof- (last visited on 16 June

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Case Study : Privacy in peril

Many users are unaware of how • Posting personal profiles Children and young people Child: We never have any money
much personal information they should be encouraged to use anymore, either. Every time I need
• Building a website privacy settings at all times whilst something, she says the same
give away online or even how it
online and to alert a respon- thing: “We can’t afford it.” When
is being done! It is important for parents not my parents were together, I could
to exaggerate the risks or to sible adult if they are asked for buy things. Now I can’t.
• Such methods include: personal (physical) information
frighten children unduly in the Predator: Me too. I hate that!
way we discuss the risks they or are uneasy about their online
• Forgetting to click on pri-
may encounter online. communication. Child: I waited for six months for
vacy settings, and the new computer game to come
Knowing how children can in- Below is a mock chatroom out. My mom promised to buy
• Giving away more informa- it for me when it came out. She
nocently give out information discussion that law-enforcement
tion than is required promised! Now it’s out. Can I buy
online, and how easily informa- officers believe to be a realistic it? Nope. “We don’t have enough
However, for children and young tion about them can be found example of online discussions. money!” I hate my mom!
people, this leaves them vulner- by strangers, is one of the Imagine a predatory pedophile
Predator: Oh! I’m so sorry! I got it!
able to (perhaps) inappropriate important things to be taken into sitting and taking notes on this I have this really kewl uncle who
contact by a peer, older youth or consideration. child, and using this information buys me things all the time. He’s
even an adult. Children may also to lure them later. Would your really rich.
innocently give away information Children need to know there are child fall for this? Unfortunately Child: You’re sooooo lucky. I wish
about themselves by: many databases that are able to some would. I had a rich and kewl uncle.
provide information about their Child: I hate my mom! I know it’s Predator: Hey! I got an idea! I’ll
• Completing any type of address, phone number and e- her fault that my parents are getting ask my uncle if he’ll buy you one
form (e.g. contest and regis- mail address. divorced. too....I told you he’s really kewl. I
tration) Predator: I know. My parents are get-
bet he’d say yes.
ting divorced, too.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Child: Really!? Thanks!! Child: Kewl. the $100 game. He comes out and
hands it to the child, who is immedi-
Predator: BRB [cybertalk for “be Predator: We can go to McDonald’s ately neutralized and delighted.
right back”] . . . I’ll go and call him. too if you want. We’ll meet you there
at noon. Stranger-danger warnings are not
Predator: Guess what? He said okay.
applicable. This isn’t a stranger- he’s
He’s gonna buy you the game! Child: O.K.. Where? “Uncle George,” and if any proof
Child: Wow, really? Thanks. I can’t Predator: In front of the computer was needed, the computer game is
believe it!!! game store. Oh! My uncle’s name is it. He gets into Uncle George’s car
George. He’s really kewl. without hesitation to meet his friend
Predator: Where do you live?
at McDonald’s. The rest is reported
Child: I live in NJ. What about you? Child: Great . . . thanks, I really ap- on the 6 o’clock news.
preciate it. You’re so lucky to have a
Predator: I live in New York. So does rich and kewl uncle. It’s disgusting. It makes us sick to our
my uncle. New Jersey isn’t far. stomachs, but it happens. Not very
Saturday arrives, and the child goes to often, but often enough that you need
Child: Great! the mall and meets an adult outside to be forewarned. (Several hundred
Predator: Is there a mall near you? We the computer game store. He identi- cyberpredators are caught and arrest-
can meet there. fies himself as “Uncle George” and ed each year.) Even once is too much,
explains that his nephew is already at though, if it’s your child. Knowing
Child: O.K.. I live near the GSP Mall. the McDonald’s waiting for them. how they operate and the tricks of the
trade will help you teach your child. Source: http://www.wiredkids.
Predator: I’ve heard of that. No prob. The child is uncomfortable, but the org/parents/parry_guide.html
What about Saturday? uncle walks into the store and buys how to avoid being victimized.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Online risks and Criminal attempts to imperson- usage or online gaming fees and merchandise.
ate internet users, primarily for
vulnerabilities related to financial gain. In some instances Exposure to racism and other Misrepresentation of a person’s
the use of the Internet this might include identity theft, discriminatory speech and images. age: either a child pretending to
although this is normally associ- be older so as to gain access to
Exposure to illegal and harmful Defamation and damage to repu- age inappropriate sites, or by an
ated with attempts to defraud tation.
content, such as pornography, older person for the same reason.
gambling and other content
Infringement of their own or the Use of parent’s email account
inappropriate for children and Physical harm through real-life rights of others through plagia- without consent: when parental
contact with other users. In most encounters with online acquain- rism and the uploading of content consent is required to activate
cases, operators of these sites do tances, with the possibility of (especially photos) without an account in virtual world sites
not take effective measures to physical and sexual abuse. permission. Taking and uploading for children, children may abuse
restrict access of children to their
Targeting through spam and ad- inappropriate photos without per- access to the accounts of their
vertisements from companies us- mission has been demonstrated to parents. Some services accounts
Creation, reception and dis- ing Internet sites to promote age be harmful to others. can be difficult for parents to
semination of illegal and harmful and/or interest-targeted products. delete once been activated.
Infringement of other people’s
Excessive use to the detriment of copyright e.g. by downloading Unwanted advertising: some
Pretending to be someone else, social and/or outdoor activities music, films or TV programmes companies spam children through
often another child, as part of a important for health, confidence that ought to be paid for. virtual world sites to sell prod-
deliberate attempt to harm, harass building, social development and ucts. This raises the issue of user
Relying upon or using inaccurate
or bully someone else. general well-being. consent and how this should be
or incomplete information found
Undesirable contact, especially online, or information from an obtained. There is insufficient leg-
Bullying and harassment. islation in this area and it is clearly
with adult impostors posing as unknown or unreliable source.
children. Self-harm, destructive and violent very difficult to determine when
behaviours such as “happy slap- Unauthorised use of credit cards: children are able to understand
Disclosure of personal informa- ping”. the credit cards of parents or oth- data transactions. Indeed how to
tion leading to the risk of physical ers which can be used to pay for apply these rules on the Internet
harm. Compulsive or excessive internet membership fees, other service is already a major concern, and
Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

mobile phone access accentuates provocative images of themselves by doing so they may help others. The OPTEM study11 however,
the problem. online or sending them to friends suggests that the risks identified
using mobile technologies. How educators might be at risk by children themselves seem to
Specifically, the following present from bullying (e.g. children and relate more to the Internet than to
the greatest concerns for educa- How children are using new young people who create hate mobile phones, and include:
tors as they often feel ill-equipped media – as opposed to how sites about teachers or other pro-
to deal with them: we think they are. – There is fessionals). Educators need to feel Risks to the computer (such as
some good research available confident that they can use the viruses and hacking)
Social networking – the way in (in individual countries) that can technology safely. Many educators
which children and young people help to support this work. (Also, feel ill-equipped to deal with some Unsolicited appearances of im-
live their lives using social spaces see EU Kids Online for sum- of these issues and are uncertain ages, or mistaken access to unde-
is very different from anything maries of EU issues, risks etc at about how to actually have mate- sired websites showing violence
that many educators are familiar rial removed from sites etc. The or pornography. (Older children
with. Many cannot understand teachtoday website provides some tend to play down the impact of
why it is so important to have Where to go for help? Many excellent guidance around this accidental exposure).
so many “friends” on a contact countries have helplines where and other related subjects. www.
list, but the number of friends is children and young people can re- Cons and fraud
seen to equate to popularity for port a problem. These are widely Sexually orientated attacks by
younger users. publicised and different coun- It is important to emphasise (as malicious adults.
tries have different approaches mentioned above), that although
Sexting – the relatively new to getting this message out. It is some educators may not be as While children acknowledge that
phenomenon where children and important that children and young technically proficient at using the they sometimes allow themselves
young people are putting them- people realise that it is never too technologies as children and young to engage in risky behaviour,
selves at risk by posting sexually late to report a problem and that people, they are well equipped in they do not show a lot of anxiety
life skills and experience to be able about the inherent risks of this
to offer advice, guidance and sup- type of behaviour and show a
port. This needs to be reiterated to preference for trying to solve the
11 educators when providing training problems by themselves or within
mary_report_en.pdf on e-safety issues. their peer group. This suggests

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


that they turn to their parents our everyday lives have become learning15. parents and encouraging others
or other adults only in cases of increasingly associated with online who interact with children (extend-
potentially ‘dramatic’ problems. technologies. For many children The UK Byron Report16 suggests ed family members, teachers, etc.)
This is a problem particularly with this means a careful negotiation that child protection policies to teach children to stay safe online.
older boys who may be more like- between the opportunities that should include an Awareness-
ly to use a worry button12 (such as technology offers (such as explor- Raising Campaign which supports Children’s Internet safety should
developed by the Virtual Global ing their identity, establishing the learning of adults (parents, not be looked at as an isolated
Task Force). However, this is not close relationships and increased teachers, guardians) who may not issue but rather as one which has
the case with all children. We can sociability) and risks (regarding be familiar with technology, as commonalities within a range of
see that children who are aware privacy, misunderstandings and well as empowering children in initiatives concerning children, their
of risks, do ‘police’ their own abusive practices) afforded by terms of encouraging safety con- safety and the Internet.
activities but often do not share a internet-mediated communica- siderations and less risk taking.
view of the new technologies that tion14.
implies that adults should be the The right messages for
reference point for judging and Same role for everyone? the right people
monitoring young people’s behav-
It is important to remember that The main objective of such a
iour13. We need to be cautious
for children and young people, it campaign is to change behaviour,
about making simple distinctions
is the teachers and parents who including encouraging safer online
between offline and online worlds,
are the primary supports for behaviours by children, encourag-
as this no longer captures how
ing effective online parenting by

Quayle, E., Lööf, L. & Palmer, T. (2008), Child Pornography and Sexual Exploitation Of Children Online. Bangkok: ECPAT International.
Livingstone, S. Taking risky opportunities in youthful content creation: teenager’s use of social networking sites for intimacy, privacy and self-expression. New Media
and Society, 10 (3), 2008, 393-411.
Livingstone, S., Bober, M. UK Children Go Online, Final report of key project findings, April 2005
Byron, T. (2008) Safer Children in a Digital World.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


The role parents and to listen to their instincts and case they are visible to all world should also display
use their common sense. users. Usually an in-game a clear policy on how
guardians can play moderator will intervene to report inappropriate
4. Check to see if the site uses
To ensure that children use Inter- technical solutions such as: only when difficult situa- behaviour and to whom.
net sites safely and responsibly, tions occur, but in some Children should be taught
22 Filters and parental con-
parents and guardians can: games they will assist users how to report incidents
1. Talk to their children about who appear to be “lost” or or unwanted contacts and
22 Maintain user history. in need of assistance. Silent how to block unwanted
what they do and who they
22 Moderation, if so is it car- moderators usually stay in contacts, use privacy set-
communicate with when they
ried out by humans or by the background blocking tings and record online
use their computer or per-
automated means e.g. using offensive material, reacting conversations.
sonal device, such as a mobile
text filtering which will to suspicious behaviour, 22 Ratings: parents and guard-
phone or games console.
recognise specific words warning users, and per- ians should be aware of
Opening and maintaining this
patterns and URLs? Does forming other policing rating symbols and their
dialogue is crucial to helping
the site use a combina- activities. use as an important tool to
to keep children safe.
tion of human interven- 22 If the site allows pho- protect young users from
2. Read the terms and conditions tion and technical tools?
of use with their children be- tographs or videos to inappropriate services and
Human moderators are be posted does the site content.
fore they enter the site, discuss trained to ensure a safe
safety precautions together, actively moderate these or 22 Age verification: if a site
and appropriate environ- does it only review images
set some basic rules and claims to use age verifica-
ment. Active moderators following the receipt of a
monitor use to ensure that the tion, how robust are its
are often portrayed as report?
rules are respected. systems? If age restricted
characters or participants
3. Educate young users about 22 Reporting and blocking products are on sale is a
in the virtual world or, in
responsible use of technology functionalities: usually tools reliable age verification
a gaming context, may act
in general, encouraging them to report inappropriate system used to confirm the
as an in-game host, in each
postings, conversations and person’s age?
activities are available, such
as “flagging” and “report
buttons”. The virtual
Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


5. Stay involved in online young than offline, face to face with one of the biggest problems about what children and young
users’ activities. It is crucial to you. It is not unusual for Internet sites face with young people may or may not know
underscore the importance of people to be more aggres- people. For example, a best about e-safety issues. There are
the role parents and caregiv- sive online, where they don’t friend of a sibling can steal many misconceptions about the
ers can and should play within think anyone will hold them virtual items that your child Internet and what either is, or
Internet sites because their accountable. Use any reports has worked hard to collect. is not appropriate. For example
involvement has a powerful of inappropriate behaviour by 10. Use the website contact page many teenagers share passwords
effect on their children’s ex- your child as an opportunity to share your concerns and with each other and this is often
perience, promoting positive to discuss with your child the questions. It is their job to seen as a sign of true friendship.
behaviour. appropriate tone of commu- make sure you feel comfort-
nications online. An important role for educators
6. Stay calm and don’t jump to able with the site.
is to teach children and young
conclusions if you hear or see 8. Learn the online culture so 11. Don’t assume everyone on people about the importance of
anything that concerns you you can assess the authenticity the Internet is targeting your passwords, how to keep them
about your child’s behaviour of the typical excuses young child. Statistics show that safe and how to create a strong
or the behaviour of one of people give when faced with offline problems with pae- password.
their online friends. Some accountability for their behav- dophiles far outweigh online
Internet sites are social life- iour online, such as “someone incidents. In general, children’s Similarly, with regard to issues
lines for some young people. stole my account”. This is sites can be safe and can of copyright, many adults are
If your children fear that you rarely the case when it comes provide a wonderful, creative horrified at the apparent lack of
will simply cut off their social to messages and chat logs social and educational experi- concern that younger users have
lifeline, they are likely to be which have violated a virtual ence for your child, but only if about downloading illegal music
increasingly reluctant to share world’s rules. It can happen, you stay involved and aware. and video. Research17 suggests
problems or concerns that but it is exceptional. that rather than not caring about
they may have. 9. Teach your children not to The role educators copyright, children and young
7. Be aware that your child may share their access passwords people are hugely lacking in
can play knowledge regarding issues of
behave quite differently online with friends or siblings. This is
It is very important that educa- legality concerning copyrighted

Berkman Center –John Palfrey and Urs Gasser - 2008
tors do not make any assumptions content online. Again, there is a

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


clear role for educators to play 2. Ensuring that everyone is 8. Delivering e-safety education Educational and
here in explaining this to pupils. aware of the acceptable use to all children and specifying
policy (AUP) and its use. It where, how and when it will
psychological effects
Schools have the opportunity to is important to have an AUP be delivered. Children’s use of Internet tech-
transform education and help which should be age-appro- 9. Making sure that all staff nology has risen dramatically in
pupils to fulfil both their potential priate. (including support staff) have recent years and has been ac-
and to raise standards with ICT’s.
3. Checking that the school’s been adequately trained and companied by a growing concern
However it is also important that
anti-bullying policy includes that their training is updated about issues of online safety.
children learn how to be safe
references to bullying over on a regular basis. Throughout history there has
when they are using these new
the Internet and via mobile 10. Having a single point of con- been a recurring moral panic
technologies, particularly Web 2.0
phones or other devices and tact in the school. And being about the potential danger of
collaborative technologies such
that there are effective sanc- able to collect and record communication technologies and
as social networking sites, which
tions in place for breaching e-safety incidents which will this has particularly been the case
are becoming an essential aspect
the policy. give the school a better pic- for young women. However, it
of productive and creative social
4. Appointing an e-safety co- ture of any issues or trends has been argued that when such
learning. Educators can help chil-
ordinator. which need to be addressed. dangers are actually investigated
dren use technology wisely and
it appears that very often it is not
safely by18: 5. Making sure that the school 11. Ensuring that the man-
the technology as such that is the
1. Making sure that the school network is safe and secure. agement team and school
culprit but more the agency of the
has a set of robust policies 6. Ensuring that an accredited governors have an adequate
children using the technology and
and practices and that their Internet service provider is awareness of the issue of
the anxieties about loss of paren-
effectiveness is reviewed and used. e-safety.
tal control19. Educators have been
evaluated on a regular basis. 7. Using a filtering/monitoring 12. Having a regular audit of all perceived to have a vital role in
product? e-safety measures. promoting and ensuring Internet
safety. Parents across the world
BECTA. Safeguarding Children Online. 2009.
18 appear to believe that schools
Cassell, J. & Cramer. M. High Tech or High Risk: Moral Panics about Girls Online. In T. McPherson (Ed.)
should have a central role in edu-

Digital Youth, Innovation, and the Unexpected. The John D. and Catherine T.MacArthur Foundation Series on
Digital Media and Learning. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008. 53–76. cating children in safe technology

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


use and the Children’s Charities transport. Schools offer the op- 5. Support staff should feel the relevance of such
Coalition have also suggested portunity to work on the Internet, 6. Young people and parents or policies as well as their personal
that ‘‘Clearer guidance should be collaboratively within a closed carers responsibility for making them
offered to schools on the safe use network or simply surrounded by real. Creating a safe ICT learning
7. Local authority personnel
of Internet, emails, chatrooms, other children. Obvious measures environment has several impor-
school web sites, and filtering and include setting up effective secu- 8. Internet service providers tant elements which include the
blocking software’’20. rity in the network but we need (ISPs), other electronic ser- following:
to go beyond this. Children may vice providers (ESPs), such
1. an infrastructure of whole-
Early approaches to online safety have personal devices that are not as the publishers of social
site awareness,
focused largely on technological covered by network protection networking sites, and region-
solutions, such as the use of filter- al broadband consortia, who 2. responsibilities, policies and
and BECTA have argued that the
ing software, but more recently are working closely with ISPs procedures
emphasis should be on getting ev-
we have seen the increasing mo- eryone to understand the risk and and ESPs on network security 3. an effective range of techno-
bility of information technology act accordingly. They suggest that measures. logical tools
and as a result, desktop comput- this means designing and imple- 4. a comprehensive e-safety
ers are no longer the sole access BECTA has argued that as all
menting e-safety polices which education
point to the Internet. Presently of these groups have insights
demand the involvement of a that can help set school policies, 5. programme for everyone in
increasing numbers of mobile wide range of interest groups. it is important that they are all the establishment
phones and games consoles of- These include:
fer broadband connections and consulted. However, simply hav- 6. a review process which con-
1. Headteachers ing policies is not enough and, tinually monitors the effec-
children can access the Internet
while at school, at home, in the 2. Governors everyone involved with children tiveness of the above21.
library, at an Internet café, a fast- 3. Senior management should undertake active prac-
tices that help young people and These should all be embedded
food outlet, a youth club or even 4. Classroom teachers in existing child safety policies
travelling to school on public staff to identify and achieve safe
behaviour. By involving all these within the school, rather than be
groups from the start, everyone seen as something managed solely
Children_s Charities_ Coalition for Internet Safety (2001). _Working to make the Internet a safer place
for kids_. Available at
BECTA. Safeguarding Children Online: A Guide for School Leaders: 2009. Available from

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


by an ICT team. It makes little these technologies. At the end and academics who work in the
sense to think of bullying over the of 2008 the US Internet Safety area, with the pendulum swinging
internet or via mobile phone as Technical Taskforce produced its between those who feel that there
being something apart from bully- report ‘Enhancing Child Safety is a danger of distorting the threat
ing in the offline world. However, & Online Technologies’ which posed to children, and those for
this does not mean that technol- provided a useful literature review whom it appears that the threat
ogy cannot also be an important of original, published research ad- has been grossly underestimated.
part of the solution through dressing online sexual solicitation,
setting up: online harassment and bullying,
1. virus prevention and protec- and exposure to problematic
tion content22. Within this report it
was noted that, ‘There is some
2. monitoring systems to keep
concern that the mainstream me-
track of who downloaded
dia amplifies these fears, rendering
what, when it was down-
them disproportionate to the risks
loaded, and which computer
youth face.
was used
3. filtering and content control This creates a danger that known
to minimize inappropri- risks will be obscured, and re-
ate content via the school duces the likelihood that society
network. will address the factors that lead
to known risks, and often inadver-
Clearly the problems that arise in tently harm youth in unexpected
relation to new technologies do ways’. Media coverage of Internet
not apply to all children and when mediated crimes against children
problems do arise they depend often seem to mirror the polar-
on the age of the children using ized positions of professionals
ISTTF (2008). Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies: Final Report of the Internet Safety Tech
nical Task Force To the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking of State Attorneys General of
the United States. Harvard University: The Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


However, there is concern that

Internet mediated technology may Commercial Aggressive Sexual Values
leave some children vulnerable Content Adverts Violent/ Pornographic Bias, racist or
and that educator, along with par- (child as Spam hateful or unwelcome misleading
ents and guardians, have respon- recipient) Sponsorship content sexual content info or advice
sibilities with regard to this. We Personal info
know surprisingly little about how
children are victimized and the
factors that promote resilience.
Contact Tracking/ Being bullied, Meeting Self-harm or
Forms of victimization include:
(child as harvesting harassed or strangers, unwelcome
1. Child solicitation or grooming. participant) personal info stalked or being persuasions
2. Exposure to problematic or groomed
illegal materials
Conduct Illegal, Bullying or Creating and Providing
3. Exposure to a medium that (child as downloading, harassing uploading misleading
might foster harmful behav- actor) hacking, another inappropriate information/
iour on the part of young gambling, person material advice
people financial
4. Cyberbullying scams or
A useful way to think about risk
can be seen in the following table23:

Table developed by the EUKids Online project and referenced in paragraph 1.3 of the Byron Review.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Online solicitation or Youth Advisory Council Global communications such as instant While the majority of youth ap-
Online Survey 24, 25. There are also messages, e-mail, and chatrooms pear to take risks (and in particular
grooming to meet and develop intimate older, male children), the vast ma-
further references to this issue in
In the context of sexual solicita- the International Youth Advisory relationships with victims. jority of children do not appear to
tion, or grooming, we under- Council Global Online Survey.26 be at risk28.
Their work indicates that in the
stand more about the process of
These researchers have recently great majority of cases, victims However, young people who
victimization, in part because the
suggested that their work about are aware they are conversing send personal information (e.g.,
research has largely involved the
Internet-initiated sex crimes online with adults. name, telephone number, pic-
children themselves.
makes it clear that the stereotype tures) to strangers or talk online
of the Internet child molester To date, the focus has been on the to such people about sex are more
Much of this research has come
who uses trickery and violence to problems of children being made likely to receive aggressive sexual
from the Crimes against Children
assault children is largely inaccu- the focus of abusive practices, solicitations, involving actual or
Research Center (CCRC) at the
rate27. ignoring the kinds of social and attempted offline contact.
University of New Hampshire
cultural worlds young people are
and has been generated by two
This US research would suggest creating online. In the five years between YISS-1
studies (YISS-1 and YISS-2),
that most Internet-initiated sex and 2 there was an overall decline
which involved telephone in- However, children and adoles-
crimes involve adult men who use in sexual solicitations, however
terviews with national samples cents are not simply the targets of
the Internet to meet and seduce this was not observed among
of Internet users ages 10 to 17 adult Internet creations, but are
underage adolescents into sexual minority youth and those living in
conducted in 2000 and 2005 . active participants in creating their
encounters. less affluent households.
There are also further references own cyber cultures.
to this issue in the International The offenders use Internet The authors felt that this in-
The studies from the University crease in harassment was largely
Finkelhor, D., Mitchell, K. and Wolak, J. Online victimization: A report on the nation’s youth. (NCMEC
6-00-020). Alexandria, VA: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 2000. of New Hampshire emphasise explained by the increase in the
Wolak, J. Mitchell, K. and Finkelhor, D. Online victimization: 5 year later (NCMEC 07-06-025). Alexandria, that it is these aspects of the amount of Internet use of the
VA: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 2006.
Internet that create risks for some previous five years.
Wolak, J., Finkelhor, D., Mitchell, K,J., and Ybarra, M.L. Online “predators” and their victims. American
young people who engage in
Psychologist, 63 (2), 2008, 111-128. specific behaviours with the new However, in 2005 young people
OPTEM. Safer Internet for Children. Qualitative Study in 29 European Centres. Brussels: European Com
technologies. were 1.7 times more likely to re-

mission. 2007.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


port aggressive solicitations, even can ethnicity, having a close online jor depressive-like symptoms were and through other channels.
when adjusting for changes in relationship, engaging in sexual 3.5 times more likely to report an
demographic and Internet use and behaviour online and experiencing unwanted online sexual solicita- The corresponding figure for boys
characteristics. sexual or physical abuse off-line tion compared to those with mild was 16%. The requests made were
were risk factors for receiving a or no symptoms, and those with for adolescents to strip in front of
The identified risk factors for request for a sexual picture. symptoms were twice as likely to the web cam or to watch an adult
such aggressive solicitations report feeling emotionally dis- while he was masturbating into
included being female, using chat Of interest is the fact that re- tressed by the incident. his web camera.
rooms, using the mobile Internet, quests were more likely to occur
talking with people they first met when young people were with In general, distress was more The adolescents in the study
online, sending personal infor- friends, communicating with an common among younger youth, described these incidents as com-
mation to people they first met adult, someone they had met first those who received aggressive mon and that they happened all
online, and experiencing offline online, who had sent a sexual solicitations and those who were the time when using chat sites.
physical or sexual abuse. picture to the young person, and solicited on a computer away None of the described attempted
who attempted or actually made, from their home31. solicitations were in any way
In the second survey, 4% (65 some form of offline contact29.
cases) reported an online re- A recent Swedish study looked sophisticated; the adult started
quest to send a sexual picture of In the first survey sexual solicita- at the number of 16 year-olds requesting sexual services at the
themselves during the previous tion appeared to be associated that had received requests for onset of the chat conversation.
year, but only one young person with showing signs of depres- sexual online meetings and offline In the same study, police reports
actually complied. sion30 . encounters. of crimes against children com-
Being female, of African–Ameri- Young people who reported ma- Among the 7,449 respondents mitted via new technologies were
46% of the girls claimed that they examined and in 50% of these,
had received such requests from the reported crimes only occurred
an adult. online where requests for images
Mitchell, K.J., Finkelhor, D. and Wolak, J. Youth Internet users at risk for the most serious online solici
or for web camera contacts were

tations. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 32 (6), 2007, S32-S37.

Ybarra, M.L., Leaf, P.J. and Diener-West, M. Sex differences in youth-reported depressive symptomatol Several of the respondents the most frequent.
ogy and unwanted Internet sexual solicitation. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 6 (1), 2001, 9-18. reported having received such
Mitchell, K.J., Finkelhor, D. and Wolak, J. Risk factors for and impact of online sexual solicitation of
solicitations both via the Internet The other reported crimes were
youth. JAMA, 285 (23), 2001, 3011-3014.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


offences committed off-line but for him to have sex with them. is significant and that adolescents Internet users and share some of
where contact was first estab- and children do report that they the qualities of social networking
lished over the Internet. At the same time none of the girls happen and that all children know sites.
would admit to being fully aware about it.
In half of the off-line crimes, the of what this would imply. However it has been found that
victim met with the perpetrator From looking into cases where teenagers and girls are the most
knowing that the meeting would Something in the chat conver- offences both online and offline common bloggers, and bloggers
lead to sex. sations with the girls made the have occurred, it is obvious that were more likely than other young
perpetrator aware of their vulner- requests for the adolescent to people to post personal informa-
The other crimes were all crimes abilities and gave him an oppor- send images or to engage in web tion online34.
where the victim thought that the tunity to exploit these weaknesses camera sex often marks the start
meeting would be of a completely even before he exploited the girls of the sexual abuse. However, bloggers were not more
different nature32. sexually. likely to interact with people they
In recent years there have been first met online who were not
Recent accounts from victims of The vulnerabilities ranged from increasing concerns about the known to them in person.
solicitation or grooming in Swe- loneliness to suicidal thoughts. kinds of behaviour relating to so-
den, both confirmed and discon- The fact that the girls went on cial networking sites that may be Bloggers who did not interact
firmed the findings of the New their own account to the meet- associated with children placing were at no increased risk of sexual
Hampshire study. ings with the perpetrator does themselves at risk. solicitation and posting personal
not make them into consenting information in and of itself did
In one major Swedish case involv- subjects33. We will discuss this further when not increase their risk.
ing more than 100 girls it was we examine the opportunities af-
evident that all of the girls knew It is obvious that the number of forded by the Internet for young However, bloggers were at an
they were meeting a man in order solicitations for online contacts people to engage in problematic increased risk of online harass-
behaviour, but it is interesting to ment, regardless of whether they
note that in the YISS-2 16% of interacted with others online.
Brottsförebyggande Rådet. Vuxnas sexualla kontakter med barn via Internet. [Adults’ sexual contacts with children had reported using blogs The UK Children Go Online
Children via the Internet] Report 2007:11. Brottsförebyggande Rådet. 2007. Stockholm. in the past year. Survey also suggested that young
Wagner, K: Alexandramannen. Förlags AB Weinco. Västra Frölunda. 2008.
Mitchell, K.J., Wolak, J. and Finkelhor, D. Are blogs putting youth at risk for online sexual solicitation or
Blogs contain material created by people who were less satisfied
harassment? Chid Abuse and Neglect, 32, 2008, 277-294.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


with their lives and who have inhibited in what they communi- have been victims of offline and thing unexpected;
become more frequent and skilled cate, and such offenders are not online exploitation are currently 2. the risk-takers, who take risks
Internet users are more likely to restricted by time or accessibility being investigated at BUP Elefan- to meet emotional needs and
value the Internet as a commu- as they would be in the “real” ten, which is a Child and Adoles- secure attention;
nicative environment, which may world. cent Psychiatric Unit that treats
3. and the self-destructive,
lead to more risky behaviours35. sexually and physically abused
In general perpetrators find out who, for example sell sex or
children in Sweden.
Through practice and experi- as much as they can about their knowingly engage in abusive
ence, it is possible to highlight a potential victim; establish the risk The project has been in progress relationships.
number of factors that need to and likelihood of the child telling; since 2006, and has involved over
The latter group are reluctant to
change if we are going to be able find out about the child’s social 100 interviews with young people,
see themselves as ‘victims’, instead
to assist those children who have networks; may give false informa- therapists, police, prosecutors and
positioning themselves as being in
been groomed online for sexual tion about themselves, including social workers.
abuse offline. false images, and, if safe enough,
they will form a “relationship” These young people have been
The results of these clinical find-
We have learnt that grooming with or control the child in such a subjected to a variety of abuse
ings suggest that many of these
online, as opposed to offline, way that they are able to meet the practices including: sexual harass-
children reject offers of help, and
happens more quickly and may child offline36. ment; engagement in web camera
it is important is that practitioners
be anonymous: children establish sex; having their images uploaded
do not give up on these children
a quicker trust with their online Therapeutic approaches assist- onto the Internet; online engage-
but instead try to maintain contact
“friend” and tend to be less ing children and adolescents who ment leading to off-line abuse,
with them until they feel ready
and children selling sex online37.
to engage in methods of help or
The analysis of this interview data intervention.
suggested that these young people
One of the predominant im-
can be divided into three descrip-
Livingstone, S. and Helsper, E.J. Taking risks when communicating on the Internet. The role of offline
pacts of the grooming process
social-psychological factors in young people’s vulnerability to online risks. Information, Communication and tive groups:
Society, 10 (5), 2007, 618-643. with children, who are made the
Palmer, T. Just One Click. London: Barnardos. 2004.
1. those that were fooled and subjects of abusive images, is to
Quayle, E., Lööf, L. & Palmer, T. (2008). Child Pornography And Sexual Exploitation Of Children Online. who were lured into some- silence the children.
Bangkok: ECPAT International.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


This silence is brought about both

by the fact that the young people
seriously believed that the person
they were going to meet was their
friend and that they would not
want to own up to the nature of
the conversations that they held
The former point has implica-
tions regarding how young people
define and determine friendships,
the latter relates to the fact that,
as alluded to above, young people
become far less inhibited when
communicating online.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

The Internet can take
and young peo-
ple virtually anywhere
in the world – and in the
process they can be ex-
posed to
potentially dangerous


Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Accessing problematic The New Hampshire studies have searching for sex partners, there is However, the authors emphasised
highlighted the accidental expo- little research to support this. that such exposure, particularly
materials online sure of young people to unwant- unwanted exposure, may affect
ed sexual material on the Internet The YISS-1 survey indicated that attitudes about sex, the Internet,
While it would be naive to assume
but have also acknowledged the 1 in 4 of children who regularly and young people’s sense of
that pornographic or sexualized
fact that existing research examin- used the Internet encountered un- safety and community.
materials did not exist prior to
ing the effects of such exposure wanted sexual pictures in the year
the Internet, it is true to say that
to unwanted sexual material had prior to data collection. 73 per By YISS-2, there had been an
the Internet has brought with it a
been largely with students and cent of such exposures occurred increase in unwanted exposure to
proliferation of easily accessible
young adults, rather than younger while the young person was pornography and this was particu-
sexualized material.
children and has largely been searching or surfing the Internet, larly apparent among 10-12 years
The accessibility, interactivity about voluntary rather than ac- and the majority happened while olds, 16-17 year old boys and
and anonymity of the Internet, cidental exposure. at home, rather than at school. white, non-Hispanic youth39.
however, are the very factors that
It is assumed that the differ- These authors also discussed In a study of Australian youth
increase the likelihood of expo-
ent kind of adolescents that are the ways in which programming (16-17 year olds), three quarters
sure to violent or sexual material.
caught in abusive and exploitative techniques maintained such ex- had been accidentally exposed
In the SAFT study 34 % of relationships online may indicate posure, making them difficult to to pornographic websites, while
children had viewed a violent that risk-takers and self-destruc- get out of. Such “mousetrapping” 38% of boys and 2% of girls had
website, either accidentally or on tive young people may also be happened in one third of these deliberately accessed them40.
purpose38. accessing pornography or visit- distressing incidents.
This study concluded that two
ing chat sites catering to adults The majority of children who features of children’s exposure to
were exposed to material regarded pornography mirror that seen in
such exposure as not particularly adults.
SAFT. Safety Awareness Facts Tools. Brussels: European Commission. Accessed 5.6.2007 from: http://
Mitchell, K.J., Wolak, J. and Finkelhor, D. Trends in youth reports of sexual solicitations, harassment, and
unwanted exposure to pornography on the Internet. Journal of Adolescent Health, 40, 2007, 116-126.
Flood, M. Exposure to pornography among youth in Australia. Journal of Sociology, 43 (1), 2007, 45-60.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Firstly, males are more likely to place through more traditional Unexpected or partial access to However, young persons’ use of
seek out and are more frequent media such as television, where material may be an important pornography has not been widely
consumers of, X-rated movies and broadcasting times of erotic and issue and it has been suggested studied and most build on self-
pornographic websites. sexual material may occur during that42: “The newer technologies reports, in which differences may
times when children are likely to (including video but also the well be those that the prevailing
Secondly, Internet users of any be viewers. Internet and mobile communica- societal norm would dictate to the
age find it difficult to avoid un- tions) allow content to be seen adolescent.
wanted encounters with sexually One factor that may be of signifi- out of context.
explicit materials. cance here relates to the control- It may well be argued that many
lability of exposure, and it may be One may see sets of trailers children and adolescents will
An example of this relates to that there are differences in the rather than the entire storyline, in claim they only accidentally
some computer games, which may impact of accidental exposure to which to understand the content. stumbled upon pornography since
have a high sexual component. that of purposeful exposure. Editorial context has always been they believe it to be inappropriate
Such games may be rated ‘for important in content regulation to state that they actively looked
adults’ but inevitably enjoy a high It has also been found that there guidelines (e.g. BBFC, Ofcom), for it on the Internet.
level of participation by young are a number of minors who are which may prove difficult to build
people. surprised by the content of the into parallel guidelines for new In a Swedish sample of 18-year
material that they inadvertently media. olds, 65% of the boys watched
It is also important to note that happen upon when using the pornography every month as op-
such exposure is not unique to Internet41. However, it is clear from research posed to only 5% of the girls. It
the new technologies, but take on children’s accidental exposure should be noted that only 7% of
to pornography on the Internet the boys and 31% of the girls in
that unexpected and de-contextu- the study, claimed that they never
alized content can be particularly watched pornography43.
Fug, O.C. Save the children: The protection of minors in the information society and the audiovisual media
services directorate. Journal of Consumer Policy, 31, 2008, 45-61. upsetting. This poses a challenge
Livingstone, S. and Hargrave, A.M. Harmful to children? Drawing conclusions from empirical research on for regulators”.
media effects. In U. Carlsson (ed) Regulation, Awareness, Empowerment. Young People and Harmful Media
Content in the Digital Age. Göttenborg: Nordicom. 2006.
Mossige, S., Ainsaar, M. and Svedin, C.G. The Baltic Sea Regional Study on Adolescent´s Sexuality. NOVA
Rapport 18/07. Oslo: NOVA, s. 93-111

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Many youth are exposed to online Problematic opportunities

sexual materials, and we have
clearly seen that not all of that ex- One further danger posed by new
posure is accidental or damaging. technologies relates to the media
themselves and the opportuni-
One concern is that exposure to ties afforded to young people
deviant or violent pornographies to engage in ways that might be
may have an impact on the beliefs deemed worthy of concern.
and attitudes of some young
people, and to a lesser extent on These might be called self-vic-
the behaviour of a select few. timizing activities through both
the Internet and mobile phone
This is increasingly being seen as technology, although this term
a potential public health issue, and may be seen to be problematic, as
it would appear that the conse- it largely relates to the increasing
quence of exposure in the largely ability to generate online content.
unregulated medium that is the
Internet certainly warrants further The evidence would suggest that
research44. mobile phone ownership may be
higher among children aged 11-16
than among adults, with 76 per
cent of children having their own

Perrin, P.C., Madanat, H.N., Barnes, M.D., Corolan, A., Clark, R.B., Ivins, N. et al.
Health educationa’s role in framing pornography as a public health issue: local and na-
tional strategies with international implications. Promotion and Education, 15, 2008, 11-18.
Child-Wise Monitor (2002). Accessed on 18.06.07 at:

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


A survey of 1,340 secondary extended social world. child’s inhibition to engage in off- These were: overuse; pornogra-
school children from the Teesside line sex or to be paid by the adult phy; infidelity; sexual exploitation
area of the UK in 2004 found By 2007 the OPTEM qualitative to meet. and abuse; gaming, gambling and
that 86 per cent owned a mobile study of 29 European countries role-playing; harassment; isola-
phone (89.7 per cent females and indicated that the vast majority of The targeted child is vulnerable tive-avoidant use; frauds, steal-
82.3 per cent males)46. children had mobile phones. for a number of reasons such ing and deception; failed online
as loneliness, being bullied or in relationships; harmful influence
In this study, mobile phone use However, there are emerging constant battles with their parents.
concerns that such technological websites, and risky and inappro-
was restricted to voice calls and The adolescent involved sees him priate use47.
text, but there is evidence that participation may involve prac- or herself as an accomplice to the
increasingly mobile phones can tices that target other individu- abuse after having sent the perpe- A further analysis examined
also act as other forms of com- als or involve the young person trator images. which problematic experiences
munication. themselves. were identified as primary or
The question of harm was also secondary problems48.
In the UK Children Go Online Self-generated images or films can examined by the University of
study, however, it appeared that be seen as part of the grooming New Hampshire group through Youth and adult users were more
this was now diversifying, and process where the offender con- examining the case-loads of 1504 likely to have problems related to
38 % of the young people had a vinces the child to send him im- practitioners to see what kinds overuse of the Internet, use of
mobile phone, 17 % a digital tele- ages of himself or herself either of problematic experiences were adult pornography, child pornog-
vision and 8 % a games console, with clothes removed or engaging reported that related to new tech- raphy, sexual exploitation per-
all with access to the Internet. in sexual behaviour. nologies. petration, and gaming, gambling
The images are often used to per- and role playing.
For many young people, the mo- They found eleven types of prob-
bile phone is both a vital means suade the child of the harmless- lematic experiences reported by Other Internet-related problems,
of communication and a way of ness in sexual contacts between both youth and adult clients. such as isolative-avoidant use,
relating to, and participating in, an a child and an adult, lowering the sexual exploitation victimization,

Madell, D. and Muncer, S. Back from the beach but hanging on the telephone? English adolescents’ attitudes and experiences of mobile phones and the Internet. CyberPsychology and Behavior, 7 (3). 2004, 359-367.

Mitchell, K.J., Becker-Blease, K.A. and Finkelhor, D. Inventory of problematic Internet experiences encountered in clinical practice. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 36 (5), 2005, 498-409.

Mitchell, K.J. and Wells, M. Problematic Internet experiences: Primary or secondary presenting problems in persons seeking mental health care? Social Science and Medicine, 65, 2007, 1136-1141.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


harassment perpetration, and on- understand what is actually going

line infidelity were equally likely. on. Bullying is bullying wherever
and how ever it happens.
Youth problems related to gam-
ing, gambling or role-playing The Byron Review in the UK sug-
were 1.7 times more likely to be gested that, ‘Cyberbullying refers
identified as a primary present- to bullying behavior that takes
ing problem and online fraud or place through electronic means
deception victimization four times such as sending threatening text
more likely. messages, posting unpleasant
things about people, and circulat-
Sexually exploited youth were ing unpleasant pictures or videos
more likely to have been given of someone.”
a diagnosis of Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder (PTSD) than Online bullying or bullying via
youth with other Internet-related mobile phone can be an exten-
problems. sion of face-to-face bullying, or
it can be a form of retaliation for
Bullying offline incidents. Online bully-
ing or bullying via mobile phone
We have already mentioned that can be particularly upsetting and
bullying in the online world damaging because it spreads more
should not be seen as something widely, with a greater degree of
different than what is seen in publicity and content circulated
the offline environment. People electronically can resurface at any
sometimes refer to online bully- time, which can make it harder for
ing or bullying via mobile phone the victim of the bulyying to get
as being “cyberbullying” but this closure over the incident; it can
may not always help everyone contain damaging visual images

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


or hurtful words; the content is blackmail. frequenting risky online locations 3. although some electronic
available 24 hours a day; bullying and may in fact place themselves communication methods and
by electronic means can happen Such bullying was frequent and in situations in which victimiza- devices are associated with
24/7 so it can invade the vic- often the same children were tion is more likely. elevated risk of “cyberbully-
tim’s privacy even in otherwise targeted. ing”, they are merely tools,
‘safe’ places such as their home; The study indicated that, in not causes of mean behavior
Importantly, the study further comparison to victims of major
and personal information can be demonstrated that there was an 4. independent of school-based
manipulated, visual images altered school bullying, victims of major
association between victimiza- bullying, cyberbullying is
and these then passed on to oth- chat bullying more frequently ex-
tion experiences in school and in associated with increased
ers. hibit socially manipulative behav-
Internet chatrooms. distress
ior when visiting chatrooms (for
Moreover, it can be carried out example, giving out false informa- 5. youth rarely tell adults about
Adolescents who were bullied in
anonymously’49. tion about their age or sex). their experiences of online
school were also more likely to
bullying and do not fully capi-
Such bullying activity can include experience chatroom victimiza- Research with American children talize on the tools provided
both teasing behavior and activ- tion. has led to the conclusion that: by communication technolo-
ity that is very aggressive and the These children were also likely 1. among heavy users of the gies to prevent future inci-
University of New Hampshire to be seen as less popular and Internet, “cyberbullying” is a dents51.
studies have suggested that there with lower self-esteem and hav- common experience
is a big overlap between illegal ing parents who were likely to be 2. the forms of online and
acts, such as sexual harassment, overprotective. in-school bullying are similar
and bullying.
and the experiences overlap
The study also suggested that
A recent German study looked across the 2 contexts
these children moved between
at victim perspectives of bullying being victims and bullies and that
behavior in Internet chatrooms50. this could be interpreted as “fight- 49
Byron, T. (2008). Safer Children in a Digital World The Report of the Byron Review.
Available from
They identified different types of ing back” or “letting off steam”. 50
Katzer, C., Fetchenhauer,D. and Belschak, F. Cyberbullying: Who Are the Victims? A Comparison
of Victimization in Internet Chatrooms and Victimization in School. Journal of Media Psychology 2009;
bullying which included harass- Victims of bullying in Internet Vol. 21(1):25–36.
ment, abuse, insult, teasing, and JUVONEN, J. & Gross, G.F. Extending the School Grounds?—Bullying Experiences in Cyberspace.

chatrooms also reported often Journal of School Health, 2008, 78 (9), 496 – 505.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Guidelines for Parents,

Guardians and Educators
The safety tips draw on analysis understanding of the dangers
the data gathered and available and the likelihood that the parent
research. This section of the pa- can reduce risks, before deciding
per is intended to provide, in one which environment is right for
convenient place, guidelines to their child.
parents, guardians and educators
to help them teach their children The Internet has great potential as
how to have a safe, positive and a means of empowering children
valuable experience while online. and young people to help and
find things out for themselves.
Parents, guardians and educators Teaching positive and responsible
must consider the exact nature of forms of online behaviour is a
the different sites, and their child’s key objective.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Parents, guardians and educators

# Key Areas for Description
Safety & security 1. Keep the computer in a Keeping the computer in a common room and being present especially when younger
of your personal common room children are using the Internet can be very important. If you cannot be present,
computer consider other ways of keeping a close watch on what your children are doing online,
for example by using technical tools. In larger families with multiple computers there
may be some practical limits which also arise if you insist on them all being in the same
room at the same time, and remember as children start to get older they are anyway
entitled to some privacy. As more and more children acquire laptops, and wireless
networks become commonplace in private homes, it will also be more difficult to
maintain a rule of this kind.
2. Install firewall and antivirus Ensure that your computer has a firewall and antivirus software installed and that it is
software kept up to date. Teach your children the basics of Internet security.
Rules 3. Agree house rules about As soon as children begin to use the Internet on their own, discuss and establish a list of
using the Internet and agreed rules. These rules should include when children can use the Internet and how they
personal devices, giving should use it.
particular attention to
issues of privacy, age
inappropriate places,
bullying and stranger danger
4. Agree rules for mobile use As soon as children begin to use mobile phones, discuss and establish a list of agreed
rules. These rules should include whether or not your children can go online using the
mobile phone and how often they can use it, what kind of material they can buy or
download using it, how to deal with inappropriate items, and levels of expenditure.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

Parents, guardians and educators
# Key Areas for Description
Parents’, 5. Parents should become Evaluate the sites that children plan to use and read the privacy policy, terms of
Guardians’ familiar with the Internet use and codes of conduct (often called “House Rules”) carefully, together with any
and Teachers’ sites used by their children dedicated parents’ page. Also, find out if the site monitors content posted on the
education (i.e. services and products services pages and review your child's page periodically. Check to see if any products
offered by Internet sites) and are sold on the site.
have a good understanding
of how children spend their
time online
6. Investigate online resources The positive and safer use of the Internet is celebrated around the world every
for further information year. This might involve children, the local school, industry and relevant players
about online safety and collaborating to create greater awareness of the opportunities to promote a positive
how to use the Internet in a online experience. For the most up to date information on these events search online
positive way for terms like “internet safety celebration” + “country name”.
7. Understand how children Today the Internet can be accessed by several other personal devices so similar safety
use other personal devices issues can also arise in these environments.
such as mobile phones,
games consoles, MP3
players and PDAs

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


# Key Areas for Description

Internet sites 8. Consider whether filtering Issues of trust and a young person’s right to privacy can arise where technical tools
features review and blocking or monitoring are used, particularly monitoring programmes. In normal circumstances it is highly
programmes can help desirable that a parent or guardian discusses their reasons for wanting to use of this
support or underpin type of software, and in schools its use should also be fully explained.
children’s and young
people’s safe use of the
internet and personal
devices. If you use such
software explain what it
does and why you are using
it to your children. Keep
confidential any relevant
passwords linked to these
9. Parental consent Some countries e.g. Spain and the USA have laws specifying a minimum age at which
a company or web site can ask a young person to provide personal information about
themselves without first obtaining verifiable parental consent. In the case of Spain it
is 14, in the case of the USA it is 13. In other countries it is considered to be good
practice to require parental consent before asking younger persons for their personal
data. Many sites which cater for younger children will ask for parental consent before
allowing a new user to join. Check what the consent requirements are for the sites your
children want to join or are members of.
10. Control use of credit Control the use of landlines or mobile phones to purchase virtual items. The
cards and other payment temptation can be too great when children are allowed to use landlines or cell phones
mechanisms to buy any kind of goods or services. Also, keep your credit and debit cards secure, and
do not disclose your pin numbers.
11. Ensure age verification Usually age is not verified when purchasing merchandise, however systems are
is implemented when becoming available to guarantee age verification at the point of sale. In all cases,
purchasing goods and carefully track your child’s spending online.
services online

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

# Key Areas for Description
12. Check if the Internet site Ensure that the Internet site moderates conversations, ideally with both automatic
uses moderation filters and human monitoring. Does the site review all photographs and videos that are
posted on it?
13. Block access to undesirable Technical tools can help you to block access to undesirable websites e.g. ones which
content or services allow un-moderated content or discussions, or to block access to undesirable services
or content on mobile phones.

14. Check contractual flexibility Check how to delete an account – even if this will result in the forfeit of subscription
fees. If the service will not allow an account to be deleted, consider not using it, or
blocking access to it. Report such inability to delete to local authorities.
15. Look at the service scope Analyse the content provider’s policies and their compliance, look at the content and
specific services provided and be aware of technical limitations (e.g. adverts may be not
clearly identified as such).
16. Observe advertising, Keep an eye on ads, and report to your local ad council ads that:
and report inappropriate 1. Mislead by over-simplifying complex matters.
advertising 2. Encourage children to talk to strangers or go to dangerous locations.
3. Show people, in particular children, using dangerous things or being close to
dangerous things.
4. Encourage unsafe emulation or dangerous practices.
5. Encourage bullying.
6. Cause moral harm and fear to children.
7. Encourage bad dietary practices.
8. Exploit a child’s credibility.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


# Key Areas for Description

Children’s 17. Educate your children Education and media literacy is crucial. Explain guidelines and rules of the virtual
educations world. Children will likely adhere to the guidelines and often remind others to do the
same. Educate your children not to reply to rude messages and to avoid sex talk online.
Teach them not to open any attachment or link they receive while chatting with others
because it might contain harmful content.
18. Explain to children to never Children could be in real danger if they meet in person strangers whom they have
arrange to meet in person communicated with only online. Parents should encourage children to use Internet
someone they first met sites only to communicate with their offline friends, not with people they’ve never met
online in person. People online may not be who they say they are. However if a strong online
friendship does develop and your child wishes to arrange a meeting, rather than risk
them going alone or unescorted make it clear that you would rather go with them, or
ensure another trusted adult goes, and ensure the first meeting is in a public place that
is well lit and has plenty of other people around.
19. Prevent children from Help your children understand what information should be kept private.
sharing personally Explain that children should post only information that you – and they – are
identifiable information comfortable with others seeing. Remind your children that once they post information
online, they cannot take it back.
20. Ensure children understand Explain to your children that photographs can reveal a lot of personal information.
what it means to post Children should not be allowed to use webcams or to upload any content without the
photographs on the approval of a parent, guardian or responsible adult. Encourage your children not to post
Internet, including the use photographs of themselves or their friends with clearly identifiable details such as street
of webcams signs, license plates on cars, or the name of their school on their sweatshirts.
21. Warn children about Children should not communicate with strangers directly online. Explain that what
expressing emotions to they write can be read by anyone with access to the same site and that predators or
strangers bullies often seek children who express an interest in making new friends online.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

# Key Areas for Description
Internet sites 22. Check your child’s page or Check your child’s page on a regular basis. Log on to view your child’s account history
safe usage profile and if necessary, change your child’s chat mode to a level you are comfortable with.
review Well-designed Internet sites provide the opportunity for you to be deeply involved
in your child’s experience. If your child refuses to abide by the site’s rules, you might
consider contacting the site to ask for your child’s pages and profile to be removed.
Amongst other thing this should strengthen your message to your child about the
importance of rules, and the consequences of breaking them.
23. Ensure children follow age If children are under the age recommended by the Internet sites, do not let them use
limits of the Internet site the sites. It is important to remember that parents cannot rely on the service provider
being able to keep underage children from signing up.
24. Ensure children do not use Wherever possible have children use nicknames – not their real names or parts of
full names them. Nicknames should be selected carefully, such that do not attract inappropriate
attention. Do not allow your children to post the full names of their friends or any other
information which could be used to identify them, such as the name of the street where
they live, where they go to school, their telephone number, their sports clubs, etc.
Communication 25. Communicate with your Talk to your children regularly about where they go and who they speak to when
children about their they go online. Encourage your children to tell you if something they encounter on
experiences the Internet makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened. Remind your children to
stop immediately whatever they are doing when they feel uncomfortable or become
suspicious. Be sure they understand they will not get in trouble for bringing something
to your attention. In turn, you, as the parent and adult, should not overreact when your
child shares their experience with you. Stay calm regardless of what they tell you, get all
the facts, and then take action. Praise your child for trusting you. Ensure children can
report abusers.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Key Areas for Description
Safety & 1. Use a whole-establishment It is important that even if schools do not allow the use of a certain technology within
security as approach towards the school, they teach pupils how to behave sensibly and appropriately when using it and
part of child responsibility for e-safety. educate them about the risks.
strategies 2. Develop an acceptable use These should detail the ways staff, pupils and all network users (including parents) can
policy (AUP). and cannot use ICT facilities.
Rules and 3. Sample AUPs are available It is important to tailor these rules to fit the particular context of your establishment.
policies both online and via local
4 Link AUPs with other These should include policies such as anti-bullying and guidance on copyright and
school policies. plagiarism.
5. Single point-of-contact. Designate a senior management team member with responsibility for safeguarding to
also be the central contact point for all e-safety issues.
6. Need for leadership. Head teachers, supported by governors, should take the lead in embedding the agreed
e-safety policies into practice.
Be inclusive 7. Maintain awareness amongst Ensure the young people in your charge are aware of potential risks and how to practice
young people. safe, responsible behaviour, wherever and whenever they are online.
8. Support resiliency. Allow young people to develop their own protection strategies for when adult
supervision and technological protection are not available.
9. Encourage disclosure of Help young people understand that they are not accountable for the actions that others
harms and responsibility may force upon them but that there are sanctions that the school will impose if they act
taking. inappropriately when online

BECTA (2008) Safeguarding children online. A guide for school leaders is available at:

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

Key Areas for Description
Technological 10. Audit practice. Ensure technological measures and solutions are regularly reviewed and updated to
solutions ensure maintenance of an effective e-safety programme
Internet safety 11. Educate teachers on Educate teachers on Internet safety to help and support children to be safe on the Net.
policy Internet safety policy.
12. Teach students to never give Inform students that personal information (e.g.., full name, address, email address, phone
out personal information number, school, etc.) should never be given out when communicating with strangers
when communicating with online.
13. Require students to search Require students to search for specific information, as opposed to "surfing" the Internet
for specific information haphazardly and have them record, in a bibliographic format, the URLs of the sites they
only. use.
14. Preview or test web sites Be sure to personally visit any site before recommending students view it. It is also a
before sending links to good idea to bookmark web sites ahead of time before inviting students to visit the
students. URLs.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Information and Communication It is, therefore, crucial that parents
Technologies – or ICTs – have and educators are able to decide,
transformed modern lifestyles. with their child what is appropri-
They’ve provided us with real- ate and safe for their use, as well
time communications, borderless as how to behave responsibly
and almost unlimited access to using ICTs.
information and a wide range of
innovative services. In working together, parents,
educators and children can reap
At the same time, they have also the benefits of ICTs, while at the
created new opportunities for same time minimizing the pos-
exploitation and abuse. Without sible dangers for children.
proper safeguards, children –
among the heaviest users of the We hope that these guidelines will
Internet – are at risk of accessing provide clear and comprehen-
violent, sexual and other disturb- sive information on child online
ing images. protection, the risks children can
encounter and what parents and
Without proper dedication to educators can do to protect and
creating a safe cyber environment, help their children understand
we will fail our children. Although how to reap the many benefits
there is increasing awareness of ICTs offer while minimizing po-
the risks related to the insecure tential dangers.
use of ICTs, there is still a signifi-
cant amount of work to do.

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


References and Sources for Further Reading

Children’s Online Privacy Protection ‘Children’s social-networking sites: http://aappolicy.aappublications. Entertainment & Leisure Software
Act (COPPA ) set your little monsters loose online’, org/cgi/content/full/pediat- Publishers Association (ELSPA),, 17 November 2007, rics;107/2/423 (last visited on 10 Unlimited learning –Computer and
available at http://www.telegraph. September 2008). video games in the learning landscape,
Cyberpeace Initiative, available at: available at
http://www.smwipm.cyberpeaceini- connected/2007/11/17/dlchil- Cyber-bullying: Developing policy assets/files/u/unlimitedlearningthero-
tiative. org dren17.xml (last visited on 10 June to direct responses that are equitable leofcomputerandvideogamesint_344.
2008). and effective in addressing this spe- pdf (last visited on 26 August 2008).
Cyril. A. Wantland, Subhas C. Gupta, cial form of bullying, Canadian Jour-
Scott A. Klein, Safety considerations CBC News, Cyber-bullying, 2005, nal of Educational Administration ENISA, Children on virtual worlds
for current and future VR appli- available at and Policy, Issue n. 57, 18 December - What parents should know, Septem-
cations, available at http://www. news/background/bullying/cy- 2006, available at http://www.umani- ber 2008, available at http://www. ber_bullying.html (last visited on 4
(last visited on 4 September 2008). September 2008). brown_jackson_cassidy.html (last ables/children_on_virtual_worlds.pdf
‘Are ads on children’s social network- visited on 2 September 2008).
Child Exploitation and Online Gauntlett, David and Lizzie Jackson,
ing sites harmless child’s play or Protection Centre (CEOP): Think eModeration, Virtual World and Virtual worlds – Users and producers,
virtual insanity?’, The Independent, 2 You Know, available at http://www. MMOG Moderation: Five tech- Case study: Adventure Rock, Commu-
June 2008, available at http://www. niques for creating safer environ- nication and Media Research Institute bad.aspx (last visited on 4 September ments for children, May 2008, (CAMRI), University of Westmin-
ads-on-childrens-social-networking- 2008). available at http://www.emodera- ster, UK, available at http://www.
insanity-837993.html (last visited on Children, Adolescents, and Televi- world-and-mmog-whitepaper (last Gauntlett_and_Jackson_May_2008.
11 June 2008). sion, American Academy of Pediat- visited on 22 July 2008). pdf
rics, Pediatrics, Vol. 107,
No. 2, February 2001, available at
Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

Home Office, Home office task Mediashift, Virtual Worlds for Virtual Worlds Management, Virtual
force on child protection on the in- Home/24182 (last visited on 10 July Children Entwined with Real World, Worlds Managements Youth Worlds
ternet – Good practice guidelines for 2008). available at Analysis, 22 August 2008, available
the providers of social networking diashift/2007/06/your_take_round- at http://www.virtualworldsmanage-
and other user interactive services Internet Watch Foundation: Protec- upvirtual_world.html (last visited at
2008, 2008, available at http://police. tion Online 28 August 2008). html (last visited on 25 August 2008).
erational-policing/social-networking- page.36.htm Microsoft, How to help your chil- Virtual Worlds News, Virtual World
guidance?view=Binary (last visited dren’ use social networking Web sites 125,000 Children Fight Obesity in
Keith, Stuart, ‘SpongeBob is the real more safely, 9 November 2006, avail- Whyville, available at http://www.
on 16 June 2008). threat to our children online’, The able at
Home Office, Good practice guid- Guardian, April 10, 2008, available at protect/family/activities/social.mspx virtual_world_h.htm (last visited on
ance for the providers of social (last visited on 11 June 2008). 4 September 2008).
networking and other user interactive ogy/2008/apr/10/ (last
services 2008, available at http:// visited on 10 July 2008). NSPCC: Children and the Internet Ambassador programmes, for train the trainers – various nodes have
Kirriemuir J., A Survey of the Use whatwedo/mediacentre/mediabrief- good examples of this.
tions/operational-policing/social- of Computer and Video Games in
networking-guidance (last visited on ings/policy/children_and_the_inter-
Classrooms, Nesta Futurelab Series, net_media_briefing_wda49338.html teachers/training.aspx
12 September 2008). 2002, available at http://ccgi.goldin-
Home Office, Good Practice Guid- The Children’s Charity: fuer-eltern/
ance for the Moderation of Interac- Games_Review1.pdf (last visited on Net Smart Rules
tive Services for Children, available at 2 September 2008). Educational materials. There are tion/index.php?i=135 many excellent resources available
Kramer, Staci D., Disney Acquires for delivering e-safety messages. The
publications/operational-policing/ Club Penguin; $350 Million Cash, Virtual Worlds Management,
moderation-document-final.pdf (last following lists are not exhaustive,
Possible $350 Million Earnout, Launches Games and further resources can be found
visited on 12 September 2008)., 1 August 2007, and Virtual Worlds Portal; Mobile at available at http://www.paidcontent. Widgets, 14 August 2008, available ww/en/pub/insafe/resources.cfm.
iehollow/comingSoon.html (last org/entry/419-disney-acquires- at http://www.virtualworldsnews.
visited on 26 August 2008). club-penguin-in-deal-values-at-700- com/2008/08/disneycom-launc.
million-to-be-brande/ (last visited on html (last visited on 26 August 2008).
10 July 2008).
Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators
61 parents research
ing/film.aspx an excellent resource bezpecnyinternet - flash version of can test their media education from David Finkelhor about the
used by several nodes to combat the entertaining brochure on how to knowledge with this online test on trend in arrests of internet preda-
bullying. use the Internet safer published by web site. Languages: Finnish and tors which suggests that there is
Microsoft. Promoted during Safer Swedish. no real evidence to back up claims Internet Day 2009. that the internet has created more
le-coin-des-juniors/dessin-anime- predators.
du-mois Vinz et Lou – a number - Safer use -Ladda-ner/filmrummet a part of
of French cartoons aimed at raising of the Internet and the “Be Smart the Swedish Media Council’s web-
awareness of e-safety issues. on the Web” test. site is dedicated to moving image aspx?id=10611 research carried out
material Language(s): Swedish and by the Irish node.
http://www.cybereth- Video interviews with Latvian parts in English. celebrities expressing their opinion
php?pageID=25&mpath=/35 and personal experience with the people/
provides a range of top tips for bullying online Language(s): Latvian EUKidsOnline/ European Re-
teachers. More interviews: Video 2 (TV show search on Cultural, Contextual and
star): Risk Issues in Children’s Safe Use of the Internet and New Media.
egory/13/59/104/ materials from
the Italian node aimed at supporting =QttMrRABnR0&feature=related - http://www.nortononlineliving.
teachers. Video 3 (dancer): com/ provides a snapshot of trends
in several countries.
Lesson-Plans.aspx this site provides ch?v=3cPRlhQDJAg&feature Pew
a range of lesson plans which have =related - Video 4 (rally driver): provides a wide range of reports
been designed for use in schools. into use of the internet and related
The site is being updated and more ?v=PodsmBjrE6Y&feature=rela technologies. Although US based,
will be available soon. ted - Video 5 (politician): http:// time has shown that trends which start in the US tend to migrate to an awareness xrUvDQaIY&feature=related - Vid- the EU in time.
raising game for small children de- eo 6 (singer):
veloped by the Bulgarian Node. com/watch?v=usqpmAHjHQ4

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators


Appendix 1
Built-in Protection

PCs and Macs have parental If you’re running Leopard, you Firefox, etc.) have an automatic Keep in mind that any protec-
controls built into their opera- can record IM conversations history log that shows which tion you give your kids will,
ting systems, and each of their and designate with whom the sites have been visited. Check of course, be incomplete. You
newest systems (Windows Vista child can talk via e-mail or iChat, your user manual to learn how need to communicate with your
and Mac’s Leopard). If you’re among other things. You can to check the history, if you’re children as much as possible and
considering upgrading your ope- also limit screen time. For ins- not familiar with it. Make sure discuss with them about child
rating system, that switch might tance, you can set the computer to check all the browsers on online protection issues.
save you the cost of additional to automatically log your kids your computer if you have more
monitoring software. out at 8 p.m. than one. And be warned: Kids
Windows users: The parental can learn how to delete the
To use your computer’s controls, history to cover their tracks, so
controls are accessed through
first set up individual user ask questions if you discover
the Control Panel. Look for
accounts for each of your kids. that the history was cleared by
User Accounts and Family
Check your computer’s user someone other than you.
Safety Control Panel. With
guide if you’re not sure how to Windows Vista, you’ll be given
do this. Need more help? Both Apple
choices about web restrictions
and also have the option of (Macs) and Microsoft (Windows)
Mac users: Next, choose System have online tutorials and detailed
Preferences on the Apple menu, receiving reports on your child’s
use of the computer. You can info on their websites -- just
and click on Accounts. For each Google “parental controls” and
designate certain hours off-limits
child’s account, click on Parental “Apple” or “Microsoft” to find
and block objectionable video
Controls and you’ll be given a them.
games and programs.
list of categories (Mail, Safari,
etc.) that you can restrict or No matter which system you
monitor. have, most browsers (Safari,
Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

Appendix 2
Instant language, decoded

Abbreviations and code words ADIH: Another day in hell LMIRL: Let’s meet in real life STFU: Shut the f-ck up (ex-
speed up instant messaging pression of surprise rather than
A/S/L: Age, sex, location LYLAS (B): Love you like a reprimand)
and texting, but they also mask sister (brother)
what people are saying! Brace BTDT: Been there done that TMI: Too much information
yourself. Here are some com- NIFOC: Naked in front of
CULTR: See you later computer TTFN: Ta ta, for now (goo-
monly used terms:
GTFO: Get the f-ck out (ex- PAW or PIR or P911: Parents
pression of surprise) are watching or Parent in room WTF: What the f-ck?
(drop the subject)
H8: Hate
POS: Parent over shoulder (can
ILY or 143 or <3: I love you also mean “piece of sh-t,” used
JK or J/K: Just kidding as insult)

KWIM: Know what I mean? Pr0n: Intentional misspelling of

LLS: Laughing like sh-t


Photo credits:, Violaine Martin/ITU, Ahone Ayeh Njume-Ebong/ITU

Guidelines for Parents, Guardians and Educators

International Telecommunication Union
Place des Nations
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Printed in Switzerland
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