Digital safeguarding: Protecting children as digital consumers
31 August 2021 at 7:00 am
Child Wise has launched a digital safeguarding practice to maximise the benefits of technology for children and young people while protecting against some of its most insidious dangers.
Technology is an integral part of our daily lives and even more so for children and young people. Digital applications, platforms and tools, both online and offline, have taken centre stage in our communication and socialisation, as well as working and learning since the onset of COVID.
The challenges and risks to keeping children and young people safe in the physical and the online environment have been exacerbated by the pandemic, as reports of online child abuse surged in Australia and around the world. Reports made by members of the public to the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) increased by 122 per cent as the nation went into coronavirus lockdowns through April, May and June in 2020.
That’s why Child Wise has launched its digital safeguarding practice that maximises the benefits of technology for children and young people while protecting against some of its most insidious dangers.
Child Wise digital safeguarding is more than protecting children and young people as consumers of technology.
Who can benefit from digital safeguarding support?
We provide child abuse prevention and interception support and advice to organisations and businesses globally, including social media platforms and tech giants, that may or not provide services to children and young people.
Even if your organisation or business has nothing to do with children, there may be offenders in your workforce using corporate devices to produce and access child sexual abuse material.
Why digital safeguarding?
Why do we talk about digital safeguarding and not online safety or online safeguarding?
Digital safeguarding encompasses much more than the use of social media. Children and young people tell us about the risks they face with text messages, online gaming and other forums that don’t necessarily see them “online” in the way you might ordinarily perceive. Our digital child safeguarding practice covers all of these aspects.
Separating the risks in an online versus a physical environment is becoming all the more difficult. Our view is that safeguarding needs to be addressed holistically and must consider the different ways children and young people communicate and engage with organisations, with each other, and with potential offenders.
What does digital safeguarding involve?
The Child Wise digital safeguarding practice is centred on empowering children and young people to enjoy the benefits of using technology without compromising their rights, safety and overall wellbeing.
Child Wise digital safeguarding focuses on four key pillars:
- Elevating technology that gives children and young people a voice – Child Wise empowers children and young people to raise concerns and have a voice in what makes them feel safe or unsafe via accessible digital tools.
- Protection for children as digital consumers – Child Wise is a trusted adviser to major social media platforms and tech providers to ensure that children and young people using their platforms and digital tools are protected in doing so.
- Mechanisms and advice to intercept child abuse – Child Wise supports organisations and businesses with workplace detection of workforce breaches, pre-employment working with children checks, and other industry accreditations.
- Thought leadership in safeguarding the digital world for children and young people – Child Wise provides opportunities for children and young people to be heard about issues that affect them. Young people are majority users of social media and the digital world more broadly, yet we find that their voices are missing from the debate on how this impacts their safety, health and wellbeing on a daily basis.
Child Wise digital safeguarding can help you maximise the benefits that technology offers, while reducing the risks
“From apps and devices tracking kids’ growth in utero, to connected toys learning their behavioural patterns, to classroom apps helping them learn, there’s a lot of data collected about young people. But we don’t always know when, how or why this data is being used, or who’s using it.” – Reset Australia
We hear from young people that they want clearer data rights and greater control over what personal information is online. A recent survey of young people by Reset Australia found that 77.8 per cent of respondents were concerned about the volume of data that is collected about them online.
Abstaining from technology is not the answer, as it has become intrinsic to their daily lives, their identity and their self-expression.
Technology offers significant opportunities to advance and amplify the voice, empowerment and participation of children and young people, which is essential to upholding their rights, safety and overall wellbeing.
“We know that asking children and young people to abstain from technology is not the answer. Quite the opposite. For many children and young people, technology is their vehicle for safety. Young people have told us they disclose abuse using some of our partner apps, that they would never have disclosed prior to the advent of mobile devices.” – Natalie Siegel-Brown, Child Wise managing director
As part of our digital safeguarding global network, Child Wise has partnered with organisations from around the world to bring the latest innovations in safeguarding technology to our region.
About Child Wise
Child Wise is a global child safeguarding organisation that exists to ensure the safety of children and young people in organisations where they spend time. For 30 years, Child Wise has worked across multiple industry sectors to build child safeguarding capacity and embed a culture where child safety is front of mind.