NSPCC launches social network awareness campaign

NSPCC's social networking awareness campaign Image copyright NSPCC
Image caption The NSPCC has launched a new animation I Saw Your Willy

A leading children's charity has launched a campaign highlighting the risks of social networking, aimed at young people and their parents.

It was introduced after many children were given smart phones, tablets or games consoles for Christmas.

NSPCC Scotland said popular social networking sites were often too easy for youngsters to join.

Two animations will be shown on prime time TV and digital spaces, as part of the NSPCC's Share Aware campaign.

I Saw Your Willy and Lucy And The Boy follow the stories of two children who share too much about themselves online.

'Inappropriate content'

NSPCC, which also operates ChildLine, asked 500 parents across the UK to review websites popular with young people.

They also spoke to almost 2,000 children and teenagers about which social networking sites they used.

The panel said under-13s could easily sign up to networking sites aimed at adults and teenagers.

It said "sexual, violent or other inappropriate content" was easily accessible.

The adults said they had difficulty locating privacy, reporting and safety information.

The young people said they worried about talking to strangers online, and the presence of sexual content on many sites.

'Out of control'

A counsellor from ChildLine in Scotland had a call from a boy who said: "Everything's spiralling out of control but I'm too scared to tell my parents.

"I started a relationship with an older guy online. He seemed to understand me so I told him stuff that no-one else knows.

"I thought he cared about me so when he asked me to send pictures, I did.

"Now he's really turned and is threatening to send everything to my parents unless I do what he asks. What should I do?"

Matt Forde, of NSPCC Scotland, said: "We know that children do take risks online, sometimes without realising it.

"And we know some parents feel confused by the internet - out of their depth, and out of control.

"Our Share Aware campaign gives parents straightforward, no-nonsense advice that will help them to untangle the web and feel confident talking to their children about online safety."

The Scottish government and the anti-bullying charity Respectme are also piloting new online child safety classes for parents.

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