BeSafeOnline – How to protect children and adolescents

  • Hotlines
  • 20/12/2018
  • Nettivihje, the Finnish hotline

Advisors of Save the Children Finland have, in their work, come across a phenomenon in which suggestive images taken by and of children and adolescents have spread uncontrollably over the internet and ended up in inappropriate or criminal use. This phenomenon is also recognised by the police. Save the Children Finland set out to work in collaboration with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to protect children in digital media.

"In analysing suspected illegal footage as part of our work, we come across children's photos being misused all the time. We want to promote the importance of adopting digital safety skills as part of our everyday activities – children and parents alike. Our campaign BeSafeOnline focuses particularly on safety skills related to footage or images", says Nina Vaaranen-Valkonen, a Senior Specialist of Save the Children Finland.

A self-adhesive webcam cover includes a lid that is kept shut when the webcam is not being used.

"The police would like to stress that children and adolescents need to pay more attention to the risks related to the use of information networks, and for example sharing images", NBI Detective Superintendent Sari Sarani points out.

"Footage and images captured via laptop or mobile device webcam can be saved and subsequently misused. We promote caution: children and adolescents should stop for a moment to consider the material they are about to share. For instance, sharing suggestive images with a boy- or girlfriend while being head over heels always carries a risk of these images being misused and spread uncontrollably over the internet later", Vaaranen-Valkonen emphasises.

As one main message of BeSafeOnline campaign, Save the Children Finland wish to remind that the laptop webcam should be covered when it is not being used. Webcams can be covered for instance with a sticker or a specific self-adhesive webcam cover.

Engaging in online chats or activities using a webcam calls for consideration. Without guidance, children and adolescents may not understand that different service providers' live chats can and are being saved, and subsequently misused: through the webcam it is possible to watch, shoot and capture images, and that is why the laptop webcam should be covered. Children and adolescents need to learn how to cover their webcams. They need to be provided with everyday digital safety skills so that they will be safe online.

"Relying on knowledge helps taking appropriate action when needed. Our aim is that webcam covers and other digital safety skills will become as widely used as bike helmets when cycling, or wearing a reflector when walking in the dark. Children and adolescents instantaneously adopt the use of technology but not the skills needed to be safe online. Adults have a great responsibility over this", reminds Vaaranen-Valkonen.

For more information, visit Save the Children Finland's website, as well as the Finnish hotline's website and its INHOPE page.

Find out more information about the work of the Finnish Safer Internet Centre (SIC) generally, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.

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