More than 70 children from primary schools across Kent and Medway took part in e-safety lessons with police officers and partners on Safer Internet Day.
Representatives from Kent County Council and the NSPCC were also present at the event at Kent Police College in Maidstone, which encouraged children to be respectful with one another online. This event was organised by Police Sergeant Julie Albone from Kent Police’s Partnerships Team and was opened by Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott.
Mr Scott said: 'The internet is a great tool for communicating, finding information and making our lives easier. But the digital world has its dangers, just like the real world. Fraud and cyber-crime, if all incidents were reported, could soon eclipse all other crime types.
'One of the guiding principles of my new four-year Safer in Kent Plan is protecting vulnerable people, which is why I'm delighted to be able to support Safer Internet Day. The lives of the next generation will be shaped by the internet and social media more than any other. We owe it to the leaders of tomorrow to make sure they have all the information and tools they need to help them have fun and also stay safe.'
The children worked in small groups on a range of workshops covering areas such as cyber bullying, being aware of what and what not to share online, and use of the Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre’s `report abuse’ button. Interactive games were used to get the message across.
PS Albone said: 'Today our main focus was on teaching the children how to make the internet a safer place. The internet is a great resource for fun and learning but it can also be dangerous if used inappropriately.
'It’s really important that children know how to report concerns or online abuse. It is crucial that young people know where they can go for support and how to report concerns if they see something they are not comfortable with.
'To spread this message we taught the children today to become 'digital leaders'. These leaders can now share the lessons they have learned with their classmates and family.
'This is just one part of the work we do with Year 5 and 6 students in all primary schools across Kent.
'When my team visit schools it is clear many children at this age are using social media sites aimed at much older youngsters and that is a cause of concern. That is why it is so important we do all we can to get the safety messages across.'
There is a vast selection of information and advice parents can view online and a good place to start is the Safer Internet Day website.
The Kent Police website also provides online safety advice for parents.
- On computers and any other devices your child has access to, set the parental controls to the appropriate age, enabling access to only appropriate content.
- Agree a list of websites your child is allowed to visit and the kind of personal information they shouldn’t reveal about themselves online, such as the name of their school or their home address.
- Set time limits for activities such as using the internet and games consoles.
- Make sure your child is accessing only age-appropriate content by checking out the age ratings on games, online TV, films and apps.