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Safer Internet Day: 'parents need education' - Professor Carsten Maple

Professor Carsten Maple

Tue 11th February, 2014

EDUCATION must begin with the parents when it comes to keeping children secure on the Internet an online safety expert at the University of Bedfordshire has stated today (Tuesday), Internet Safety Day 2014.

Carsten Maple, who is a Director of the National Centre for Cyberstalking Research (NCCR) at the University, has been at Parliament recently to discuss adolescent safety on the web.

And the Professor in Computer Science and Technology believes that while education is vital for youngsters, parents also need to keep informed.

“Parents and a lot of adults also struggle to assess risk and only through education can this issue be tackled. We have to understand if we want to solve the problem we have to employ all four different approaches of tackling the complex issue of online security (legislation, regulation, technology and education), with education being a key approach. We need to provide parents with the skills and knowledge to make informed decisions,” Professor Maple said.

“Education in schools is arguably the most vital component in any proposal to address the problem. The school IT curriculum is changing and this, I would hope will bring an opportunity to ensure effective child education. Whilst it is recognised that children are becoming adept Internet and technology users, we should not confuse their ability with Internet technologies with their ability to assess risk; therein lays the problem.

“Children are unaware of what actions and comments are acceptable online. They don't know what is legal and they don't know how to address each other online,” he added.

“Due to children’s under-developed sense of ‘netiquette’ we have seen many instances of cyberbullying ranging from unintentional but harmful teasing to the horrific bullying that has had fatal consequences. Some children have been generating images of themselves, and be unaware that this may breach the Sexual Offences Act 2003, as well as those that distribute such material.”

Children can accidentally download malware with sexual or violent content as they download from illegal streaming sites, and Professor Maple adds that “we need to ensure” children are more aware of the risks when downloading from some sites.

Notes to editors

  1. Professor Maple is available to talk to the media on various Internet Safety Day potential topics, in addition to the above, including:
  • The ‘dark web’ – the ability to purchase drugs, fake passports, guns etc online
  • Individual and business safety – how to make sure your PC isn’t hacked; what measures you can take in terms of cyberstalking
  • Bullying

To interview Carsten, or any other experts from the NCCR on similar topics, please contact the press office on 01582 743499 or simon.wesson@beds.ac.uk

2. The National Centre for Cyberstalking Research (NCCR) was established to address the need for research and analysis of this increased threat to individuals and society.

3. Safer Internet Day (SID) is organised by Insafe in February of each year to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially amongst children and young people across the world. For more information visit www.saferinternet.org/safer-internet-day

Bedfordshire University

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