There has been much discussion recently about the obligations of major internet players, particularly social media networks, to make more strenuous efforts to monitor the activity on their platforms. Welcome as they are, however many moderators the social networks hire, the idea that they can provide full protection for children is no more realistic than suggesting that we place police officers on the corner of every street. The networks are simply too large, the activity too great, to make this possible.
Instead, we need to ensure that every child is taught the basics of keeping themselves safe online. In an era where young people are so tech-capable, the task cannot be left to parents alone. Instead, we should create an online safety task force, consisting not of well-meaning experts and lengthy discussions, but of part and full-time educators available to go to schools to talk to children directly.
My work at UK Council for Child Internet Safety, convinces me that there is a huge reservoir of goodwill that can be turned into action like this. Social media companies could release their staff to do the work voluntarily or help train teachers themselves. Not just because it’s good community relations but because it’s good for business. At a time when their reputations are threatened and there is real pressure for further government intervention, this would be a powerful way for companies to show ‘hands-on’ willing.
Internet companies can help children, and themselves
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