Online safety during the coronavirus pandemic
During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and lockdown, people are relying even more on online technology.
With schools only open for some children, most are at home, away from their friends, peers and teachers. And social distancing means that they may not have seen extended family in some time. This makes being online extra important for children and young people.
Many children are spending more time online – and expanding the ways they use the internet. They may join online communities or start using new video-calling platforms. Children who receive support from services may go online to contact social workers, counsellors and others in their support network.
While all this can bring benefits to children’s mental health and wellbeing, children can be exposed to risk online.
When children spend time online they may be exposed to:
- online abuse
- sexual exploitation
- sexting: advice for professionals
- sharing sexual messages, images and videos
During the coronavirus pandemic, children may be at increased risk as they are online more often. Europol has reported an increase in some countries in offenders attempting to contact young people via social media since the outbreak of the virus (Europol, 2020).1
Some children may also have limited access to the internet at home. This may impact their level and quality of education, their contact with friends and wider family, and potentially affect their mental health.
To help you understand and tackle the risks all children face online, we’ve pulled together some resources, including updated information on communicating with children via social media, running online services, tips for parents and carers and advice to share with children.
ReferencesEuropol (2020) Catching the virus: Cybercrime, disinformation and the COVID-19 pandemic [Accessed 30/04/20]