Welcome back to our weekly #WakeUpWednesday Online Safety post where each week you will find a guide on a topical Online Safety issue.

The Ofcom Media Use and Attitudes Report (April 2024) identified that there has been an increase in mobile phone ownership in primary school aged pupils  (26% of 5-7 year olds and 61% of 8-11 year olds).

In addition to this, the report found that children across all age groups perform potentially risky behaviours online: 43% of 8-17s admit to having given a fake age to get access to a new site or app; 51% of children aged under 13 – which is commonly the minimum age requirement for many social media platforms – report using social media sites/apps; a higher proportion of 5-7- year-olds have their own profiles on specific social media platforms, compared to last year: YouTube/YouTube Kids (48% vs 39%), WhatsApp (11% vs 7%) and Instagram (9% vs 5%); a subset of 5-7-year-olds are also independently online. A third (32%) of parents of 5-7 year olds reported that their child uses social media independently, with a further 42% saying that they used these services with their child.

‘Sexting’ refers to the sharing of sexual, naked or semi-naked images, videos or messages on any device. Although ‘sexting’ is associated with teenagers, pressure via social media and unsupervised time online can leave younger children vulnerable and it’s important that we, as adults, are educated about these risks.

The sharing of intimate images online can be a dangerous avenue through which abusers seek to exploit children and young people, forcibly exposing them to explicit material, coercing them into sharing self-generated intimate images, and extorting them with the threat of sharing such images more widely. From reputational impact to potential blackmail or emotional distress, and even legal consequences, exposure to this harmful behaviour can have a severe impact.

It’s important to remember that the creation and distribution of explicit material featuring under-18s – even by the child themselves – is illegal under UK law. This guide looks at the serious concerns associated with this behaviour, and lets parents and educators know how best to address these issues and protect young people.

If you have any questions or concerns about Online Safety, please contact the school office.