Parents encouraged to keep children safe online this summer

Reading Borough Council and Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC) are signposting parents to useful resources ahead of the summer holidays to help ensure their children continue to be safe when online.

With an estimated half of all ten-year-olds now owning their own smartphone, children aged 5-15 spend an average of over 14 hours a week online1 – more than two hours a day. That is set to increase over the summer holidays, and both the Council and BFfC are keen to ensure both parents and children are switched on to enjoying their online time without responding to any unwanted approaches.

Over 50% of 5-to-15-year-olds use social media sites or apps, and just over half of 12-15s have had some form of negative online experience2. The most common of these is being contacted by someone they did not know who wanted to be their friend, which has happened to almost a third of children in this age group.

A web page has been created by Reading Borough Council that signposts parents to a number of important resources where they can find help and advice around online safety: Online safety for children and young people - Reading Borough Council

Potential risks include:

  • Radicalisation – online approaches have been identified as the main way people are influenced by extremists
  • Cyberbullying
  • Sexting
  • Viewing pornography
  • Chat forums when gaming, allowing strangers to initiate conversations with young people
  • Encouragement to self-harm

The Council has also provided resources to local schools to help get the message out and educate children to look out for unwanted approaches on their phones and social media.

These include stickers featuring a QR code to help access online safety information, and posters to promote online safety and signpost to useful resources have been sent to schools, libraries, community centres and leisure centres.

Banners signposting to online help have also been put up in some of Reading’s open spaces where young people meet up during the summer, including Christchurch Meadows, Palmer Park and Prospect Park.

“It is always really important to help ensure our young people are kept safe from harm online, but this is magnified during the school holidays when they spend even more time on devices, increasing the risk. We urge parents to take an interest in what – and who – their children are engaging with on their phones and computers, and to take a look at the resources available to both parents and children on our website to help reinforce and support that vigilance”.

Karen Rowland, Lead Councillor for Environmental Services and Community Safety

“The internet can be a great resource for young people to stay connected with friends, to learn and to play. Most of the time young people enjoy a positive experience online but it is important they know where to go for help if they do encounter any problems, without being judged or worried about getting into trouble. The resources available on the BFfC and Council websites offer really useful information about staying safe online both for young people and their parents.”

Lara Patel, Executive Director of Children’s Services at Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC)

Last updated on 20/07/2023