Consultation With Children and Young People
We have sought the views of children and young people when developing this action plan, working with both YouthLink Scotland and Young Scot. We provided briefing, including a number of questions for children and young people, about internet safety for YouthLink Scotland's youth workers so that they could hold sessions and provide feedback. We also worked with Young Scot to hold a workshop in February 2017 with the 5Rights Youth Commissioners on Digital Rights inviting their views on internet safety for children and young people, including the risks and benefits of being online as well as on what additional support would be helpful.
Children and young people told us:
- Improved communication, job applications and opportunities, engaging in society, education, and social media for self-expression were some of the many benefits mentioned about being online. Some of the risks included not feeling in control of data/information and that there was also an addictive aspect in terms of not wanting to/or feeling able to 'log off'.
- Children and young people don't see the online/offline worlds as distinct - even if someone is physically with other people they still have an active online presence via their profiles. They will also interact with others online and in person at the same time and don't differentiate between the two.
- Schools often talked about 'what not to do', when it is felt there should be more focus on 'this is what you could do' and 'this is what you should do to be safe'. Education settings should move on from the risk-averse and fear-based messages and improve their understanding of what being online means to children and young people in addition to keeping up to date with current technology and online tends, which is also lacking.
- Often messages from community police are seen as 'terrifying' rather than helpful, with the emphasis being on the criminalisation of various behaviours. It was suggested that peer education would be a much better model, because it's more relatable and therefore valuable.
- Importantly, there was a collective view that children and young people need to be involved in the production of online safety material.
- If you're bullied online it continues offline and regardless of the medium used, it feels the same. It is therefore unhelpful to try to separate into offline and online bullying. Friends or parents, depending on the severity of the situation, would be where victims of bullying would go to for support. Childline and respect me were also mentioned as a good place to go for support.
- Personal resilience is the most important thing needed to improve online safety; however support is needed to build this. Within the feedback children and young people also called for social media providers to make it easier to report and block material, with simple demonstrations on how to do so. It was suggested that pop ups could be used. Messaging also needs to be more constructive when things are reported, rather than "under our guidelines this is not bullying".
- When talking about the needs of parents and carers, it was suggested better resources are needed.
There is a need for parents and schools to react calmly towards online incidents and prioritise listening to the experience of those involved.
Email: Rachael Wilson
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House