Staying safe online – Covid-19 and extremist influences online

While we are all spending more time at home and apart due to Coronavirus, social media platforms, like Twitter, Snapchat and video calls, are a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, share your thoughts and ideas and connect with like-minded people.

The online world is a necessity for many children in accessing school work and it delivers huge benefits, not least in enabling us to stay connected to family and friends during this period. However, many parents may feel concerned about the content their children are accessing.

In some instances, social distancing restrictions have meant that individuals are isolated from their usual social circles - this reduces the protective factors that these safe environments provide. An understanding of digital safety can support parents and carers to help to protect loved ones from a range of online harms, whether that’s child sexual exploitation, fraud, or extremist groomers seeking to radicalise vulnerable people.

Although rare, there is a risk that online groomers are targeting vulnerable young people who are spending more time on their devices, and looking to exploit those who may be feeling an increase in feelings of stress and isolation at this time. Some of the ideas these groomers hold, and look to sow and develop in others, are aligned to hateful extremist ideologies associated with terrorist groups, and when a person starts to support or be involved in them, this is called radicalisation.

Keeping your children safe online

There are a number of steps that parents, teachers and carers can take to keep children and young people safe online. If you have downloaded new apps or bought new technology to help stay connected at this time, remember to review and adjust privacy and safety settings if you or your child is signing up to a new online service.

The Government has encouraged Internet Service Providers to allow parents to easily filter content to put you in control of what your child can see online. Have a look through your devices to see what family friendly filters are available to help prevent age inappropriate content being accessed on devices in your home.