As Christmas fast approaches, hundreds of parents across the Arun district will be looking to buy their children internet-enabled gadgets.
The Office of National Statistics suggests that last year, more than half a million six-year-olds owned their own iPad and a recent survey by Opinium revealed that children as young as five were browsing the internet on their own.
However, there are hazards to being online that both children and parents need to be aware of.
In West Sussex, increasing numbers of children have been identified as being at risk from exploitation online and cyber bullying is increasing year on year.
As a result, the Safer Arun Partnership [SAP], which includes representatives from Arun District Council, Sussex Police and West Sussex County Council, is seeking to tackle the issue of cyber safety.
The Partnership will be commissioning the Worthing-based organisation ‘asphaleia’ to pilot a peer-led programme for all young people in West Sussex, and an adult education programme for their parents/carers.
Issues such as practising safe behaviour when using mobile phones, on the internet or gaming will be tackled with youngsters at their workshops.
The parent workshops will be delivered by young people and will focus on topics such as the online social issues faced by young people and how parents/carers can support them.
Councillor Mike Clayden, Arun District Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing, said: “It is fantastic that so much information can be gleaned at the touch of a button and we celebrate modern technology, however there can be a negative side if caution isn’t taken.
“The series of workshops have been carefully thought-out to tackle issues which we know affect young people, and which their parents and carers worry about. We will be evaluating the success of the workshops through interactive feedback once they are complete and hope that they will help with future funding and, if successful, provide excellent evidence-based learning for future training.”
The dates for the workshops will be publicised early next year.
For more information about cyber safety, visit https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/